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Big Bang Theory Sheldon


Karen Yiu

on 16 May 2013

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Transcript of Big Bang Theory Sheldon

THE HUMOUR OF Sheldon Cooper: a fictional character in American sitcom - The Big Bang Theory
exhibits a strict adherence to routine, a total lack of social skills, tenuous understanding of irony, sarcasm, and humour.
these characteristics are the main sources of his character's humour HYPOTHESIS the personality of the character Sheldon, is shaped by violating maxims rather than obeying and therefore creating jokes and gags for viewers. Quality: Be Truthful

Quantity: Be Accurate
(i) Don't say less than is required
(ii) Don't say more than is required

Relation: Be Relevant

Manner : Be Clear
(i) Avoid ambiguity
(ii) Be brief
(iii) Be orderly M S I X A Sheldon's inability to perform sarcasm Sheldon feels more obliged to obey a maxim than to flout it CONCLUSION Conversational Implicature QUANTITY How much is too much? QUALITY RELATION BE TRUTHFUL Stuart: Oh, Sheldon, I’m afraid you couldn’t be more wrong.

Sheldon: More wrong? Wrong is an absolute state and not subject to gradation. STATEMENT OF FACTS Examples BE RELEVANT Sheldon always obeys this: being particularly relevant SHELDON In 'The Big Bang Theory' THE HUMOUR OF How Sheldon violates some of the Grice's maxims and fails to understand almost any kind of SARCASM, leading to a creation of humour. Besides not being brief
and talking too much in detail, Sheldon also shows
his inability in understanding
and making sarcasm. SHELDON I don’t guess. As a scientist I reach conclusions based on observation and experimentation. Although, as I’m saying this, it occurs to me that you may have been employing a rhetorical device, rendering my response moot." -Dr. Sheldon Cooper BACKGROUND MANNER OUR HYPOTHESIS: CORRECT? Sheldon didn't violate all maxims
opt out the relevance and quality
talk with evidence
related to the topic

Violate manner and quality
provide more than needed
not brief S01E06

Kurt: Yeah, how about I make a point out
of your pointy little head.

Sheldon: Let me remind you, while my
moral support is absolute, in a physical confrontation I will be less than useless. KWAN Wing Yu, Kathy (52191880)
LAU Pan Ying, Peony (52186113)
LUK Ka Kei, Kate (52178820)
WONG Hiu Lam (52201680)
YIU Ka Lam, Karen (52192967) GROUP MEMBERS CONTENT 1. Introduction
2. Background and Hypothesis
3. Introduction to Grice's Maxims
4. Observation of Maxims
5. Flouting Maxims
6. Limitation
7. Conclusion F Deliberately and overtly flouting the maxims is keeping with the cooperative principle at deeper level
Used for conveying 'extra message'
If one is obviously flouting maxim, one also assume listener to be able to compute the extra message
e.g. Chomsky is a great sociolinguist.
(Adopted from Huang 2007) What is Sarcasm ? Limitation Some data can be better analyzed by other theories,
e.g. Speech Act theory Maxim alone cannot provide comprehensive analysis on Sheldon's pragmatic knowledge
PENNY: The directors said I was too Midwest. Too Midwest ?
What the hell does that even mean?
SHELDON: Well the American Midwest was mostly settled by
Scandinavian and Germanic people. They have a characteristic facial bone structure.
PENNY: I know what it means Sheldon! Limitation Inability to Identify Irony Worry that the listener cannot get his extra message
Directly spill out the real message after attempting sarcasm
Strong tendency to opt for the Quality maxim fails to comprehend irony as he expects one to opt for the maxims
fails to flout maxims, esp. for Quality, overtly
instead, utters the hidden message overtly In response to our hypothesis...
Sheldon is more observable towards the maxims without breaching them than we expected, even when we do need to flout them. Conversational Implicature Season 1 Episode 2 Fail to notice the infringement [Scene: Sheldon and Leonard’s living room, morning.]

Sheldon: I have to say, I slept splendidly. Granted, not long,
but just deeply and well.
Leonard: I’m not surprised. A well known folk cure for insomnia
is to break into your neighbor’s apartment and clean.
Sheldon: Sarcasm?
Leonard: You think?
Sheldon: Granted, my methods may have been somewhat
unorthodox, but I think the end result will be a measurable enhancement of Penny’s quality of life.
Leonard: You know what, you’ve convinced me, maybe tonight
we should sneak in and shampoo her carpet.
Sheldon: You don’t think that crosses a line?
Leonard: Yes! For God’s sake, Sheldon, do I have to hold up
a sarcasm sign every time I open my mouth?
Sheldon: You have a sarcasm sign?
Leonard: No, I do not have a sarcasm sign. Intends to be informative
Provides more than required
Explains things in details
Speaks out of the focus of a question Leonard : Hey, Penny. How was work?
Penny : Great. I hope I’m a waitress at the
Cheesecake Factory for my whole life.
Sheldon : Was that sarcasm?
Penny : No.
Sheldon : Was that sarcasm?
Penny : Yes.
Sheldon : Was that sarca..
Leonard : Stop it! Misunderstood people's intention Season 2 Episode 14 [Scene: Penny borrowed money from Sheldon and wanted to return it]

Sheldon: Hello, Penny.
Penny: Sheldon, here is your money. Thank you very much. It helped a lot.
Sheldon: Sarcasm?
Penny: No.
Sheldon: Darn. I can’t seem to get the hang of that. Not only that he cannot catch the hint of
conversational implicature F
Misread the thanking as violating the Quality
maxim when there is no clear reason one should do so AS A LISTENER AS A SPEAKER Overtly express the 'Hidden extra message' Season 3 Episode 1 [Scene: Leonard cheated Sheldon about the experiment result. The two are in a quarrel]
Sheldon : ... the actual results are unsuccessful and I’ve already sent
an e-mail to everyone at the university explaining that I have confirmed string theory and forever changed man’s understanding of the universe.
Leonard : Aw, I see, yeah, you probably shouldn’t have done that.
So write another e-mail, set the record straight,
it’s no big deal.
Sheldon : You’re right, Leonard, it’s not a big deal. All you did was
lie to me destroy my dream and humiliate me in front of the whole university.
That, FYI, was sarcasm. I, in fact, believe it is a big deal. Flouting Quality maxim
express opposite meaning Following Quality maxim
overtly express the intended
meaning Overtly express the 'Hidden extra message' 1:48 Another Example - S2E22 Sheldon: Aren’t you going to check your messages?
Leonard: No.
Sheldon: You have to check your messages, the leaving of a message is one half of a social contract which is completed by the checking of the message. If that contract breaks down then all social contracts break down and we descend into anarchy.
Leonard: It must be hell inside your head. Leonard : ... what’s your announcement?
Sheldon : Oh, good, my turn. Well, this is very exciting
and I wanted you to be among the first to know…
Kripke : Hey, Cooper, I hear you’re going to be on the wadio
with Ira Fwatow from Science Fwiday next week.
Sheldon : Thank you, Kripke, for depriving me of the opportunity
to share my news with my friends.
Kripke : My pweasure.
Sheldon : My thank you was not sincere.
Kripke : But my pweasure is. Season 3 Episode 9 Lies; what lacks evidence QUALITY MANNER RELATION QUANTITY WHICH MAXIMS DID SHELDON FAIL TO OBEY? Flouting Quality maxim
express opposite meaning Following Quality maxim
overtly express the intended
meaning F An Example - S2E21 Penny: Mmm, what smells so good?
Sheldon: That is the intoxicating aroma of Kadhai Paneer, a perfect culinary representation of the freedom this evening holds. Not only is it Indian cuisine, which Koothrappali loathes, it contains a generous helping of peanuts, which would reduce Wolowitz to a wheezing 97 pound blister. And finally, its main ingredient is Paneer, a farmer’s cheese which would cause Leonard to render any room uninhabitable within minutes. How Sheldon Answers Questions Facts; what speaker believes to be true SHELDON:
obsesses with facts and definitions,
esp. scientific ones. Correct anyone whenever he finds flaws Except for some cases of ambiguity Opting a maxim: observe and follow the maxim
Flouting a maxim: exploit the maxim Grice's maxims did not give precise explanation when speakers got the wrong answer led by ambiguity - world knowledge BE CLEAR Don't be obscure.
Don't be ambiguous.
Be brief; don't be prolix.
Be orderly. EXAMPLE - S1E16 Penny: Uh, Sheldon, I didn’t see your present.
Sheldon: That’s because I didn’t bring one.
Penny: Well, why not?
Howard: Don’t ask.
Sheldon: The entire institution of gift giving makes no sense.
Howard: Too late.
Sheldon: Let’s say that I go out and I spend fifty dollars on you, it’s a laborious activity, because I have to imagine what you need, whereas you know what you need. Now I could simplify things, just give you the fifty dollars directly, and then, you could give me fifty dollars on my birthday, and so on, until one of us dies leaving the other one old and fifty dollars richer. And I ask you, is it worth it? DIGRESSED. WENT TOO FAR. Grice's Maxims Problem? M Need not to tell too much details which may make others feel distracted and annoying [Scene: Leonard telling Sheldon to be nice to Penny]

Leonard: I’m just saying, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Sheldon: You can catch even more flies with manure. What’s your point?
Leonard: It’s a… (gives up) 4 Partially Imagined
and constructed
whole situation Proposed
new mechanism Gift giving
as lifelong act Prolixity.
Not easily
understood. UNCLEAR.
Explained things
too far.
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