The Infringement of Gricean Maxims In Nasreddin’s Stories

Full House[10].

One of Nasreddin Hodja’s neighbours asked the Hodja for some advice on how to manage his large family in his tiny little house.

`Hodja Effendi,’ he lamented, `our quarters are so small, we can’t all fit in. Me and my wife, my mother-in-law, 3 kids… We are cramped up in our puny cottage. You are a wise man, you would know of a solution, please tell me what to do!’

`How many chickens do you have in the barn?’ Hodja asked.
`Why, Hodja Effendi, I have 5 chickens and a rooster.’
`Take them all into the house!’
`Mercy!’ the poor peasant protested, `Hodja Effendi, the house is small without the chickens.’
`Try it!’ Nasreddin Hodja insisted, `You will be grateful to me.’

The neighbour was not convinced but he didn’t dare question the wisdom of the Hodja. He took the chickens and the rooster inside the house. The next morning

he ran to Hodja’s house.

`Hodja Effendi, it is worse now. Me, my wife, my mother-in-law, 3 kids, 5 chickens and a rooster! We can’t fit in at all!’ he bemoaned. However, Nasreddin Hodja was not moved.

`You have a donkey, don’t you?’
`Yes, Hodja Effendi, I have one old donkey.’ answered the man.
`Take the donkey in!’ said the Hodja. No matter how much the neighbour objected, Nasreddin Hodja maintained that it was for his best and the hopeless man did as he was told. The next morning, he ran back to Hodja’s house, this time more despairingly than ever.

`Hodja Effendi! It is not possible. The wife, the mother-in-law, the kids, the chickens, the rooster and the donkey! We had a terrible night. There is no room to breathe.’
`If I remember correctly, you had two lambs, did you not?’
`Oh, no! Hodja Effendi, don’t tell me to take the lambs in. There is no room!’
`Don’t worry, my friend,’ the Hodja assured the desperate man, `You will thank me in the end.’

The neighbour, hoping the Hodja knows something that he doesn’t, took the two lambs in that night. The next morning he was at Hodja doorstep, wretched.

`Hodja Effendi, what are you doing to us? The house is packed full. My mother-in-law is threatening to kill me, my wife is threatening to leave me. This is not working at all.’

Nasreddin Hodja considered for a moment, then he said:

`Now, take all the live stock out of the house. Chickens, rooster, donkey and lambs; all back to the garden, back to the barn, back to the shed. Take them all out!’

Next morning, the neighbour was once again at Hodja’s house.

`Ahh, Hodja Effendi, you are indeed a wise man. You solved my problem. Now, our house is so large, so roomy, so much space for everyone, kids can play, we can sleep, everyone is happy.’ he said, `Thank you and may Allah bless you!’


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In this story, Nasreddin breaks the maxim of relevance. Indeed, it can be seen when his neighbor ask him for a solution of managing his large family in a small house, Nasredin give the unrelevant answer. Instead of telling the way how to manage the large family, Nasreddin ask the neighbor to add his chicken, donkey, and lambs into the house. In fact, although the neighbour fee;feels it is such an illogic, he keep doing the advice.

Implicature: no.

When the neighbour get the Nasreddin’s answer, actually he didn’t understand with the answer. The answer is not something that he expected. Nasreddin just ask him to do something irrelevant. However, at the end, the neighbour get the result. After he take all his live stock out, the family can feel the meaning of space. Therefore, Nasreddin give the irrelevant answer in order to teach his neighbour.

Pivotal Point[11].

One idle day, the villagers were contemplating philosophical thoughts and deliberating the mysteries of the universe. Since they weren’t getting anywhere with their reflections, they decided to solicit the wisdom of Nasreddin Hodja.

`Hodja Effendi,’ they said, `you are a learned man, maybe you can shed a light on this puzzle. Where is the centre of the earth?’ Nasreddin Hodja didn’t skip a beat.
`Right under the left front foot of my donkey.’ he said.
`Hodja Effendi,’ protested the villagers, `that can’t be right!’
`If you don’t believe me,’ said The Hodja, `measure it for yourself!’


In this story, Nasreddin breaks the maxim of quantity. When answering the villager question, Nasreddin answer is not as informative as that is needed by the villager. Instead of answer the question scientifically, he just reply by saying “right under the front left foot of my donkey”. AS the result, the villager didn’t feel satisfied to the Nasreddin’s answer.

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Implicature: no.

In the villager’s mind, he can infer the aim of Nasreddin. According to the Nasreddin answer, it can be seen that Nasreddin doesn’t know where is the centralof the world. He just answer the question whatever it is, and ignore the villager’s question. However, this kind of abuse is used by Nasreddin to hidden his unawareness which the answer should be longer than the Nasreddin answer.

It is very interesting to learn the four type of maxims. We can meet them in our daily life. Perhaps we often use the rules in various occation. Moreover, in the literature, it breaks the maxims sometimes. The Nasreddin Stories is some of the examples. In order to make this story funny, the writer breaks some maxims.

[1] Accesed at December 29th, 2009

[2] accessed at December 29th, 2009.

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[8] accessed at December 29th, 2009.

[9] accessed at December 29, 2009

[10] accessed at December 29th, 2009.

[11] accessed at December 29th, 2009.

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