The domestic relevance duels

In today’s Zits, Jeremy and his mother spar over dirty dishes:

Another Zits in which Gricean relevance plays a central role.

In these domestic playlets, Jeremy’s mother says something (often in the form of a question) that is designed to get Jeremy to do something, but she goes about things indirectly (as we all do, very often), counting on Jeremy to understand the relevance of what she says — in particular, her reason for saying what she does; Jeremy, on his part, then avoids doing what his mother wants by contriving to understand her literally.

In this case, Jeremy’s mother, assuming that it’s quite likely that there were a lot of dirty dishes in Jeremy’s bedroom, was aiming to get him to take them to the kitchen (maybe even to put them in the dishwasher), but Jeremy subverts her goals by moving the dishes out of his bedroom, so that the answer to her question, taken at face value, becomes “no”.

 

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