Is Sherlock Really that Observant? : A qualitative study of the relation between non-observances of observational maxims and characterization in the TV-series Sherlock

University essay from Karlstads universitet

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate how often a character of a TV-series non-observed the conversational maxims, and if non-observances can be used for characterization in TV-series. The aim of this study was also to examine how much conversations and generally unknown conversational rules can affect people and their entire perception of others. The study focused on the main character of the TV-series Sherlock and investigated how often Sherlock breaks the conversational maxims, in what ways he does so, and how 20 respondents would describe Sherlock based on his conversational input. The most frequent non-observance turned out to be flouts and the most commonly non-observed maxim was the maxim of relation. According to the survey that the respondents answered, there seems to be a correlation between Sherlock’s conversational input and how they would describe him. In general, the respondents applied more negative personality traits to Sherlock when describing him based on excerpts where he did not observe the conversational maxims, whereas they described Sherlock in a more positive manner when he followed the conversational maxims.

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