The purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics and dialog strategies of best replies based on the flouting of maxims. Because best replies are those recommended most by netizens, we may find dialog strategies that are considered ideal by netizens by analyzing best replies. Best reply data were collected from the news of current affairs, entertainment, and sports in portal site NATE. In addition, the dialog strategies of best replies were analyzed using Grice’s (1975) conversational maxims and Lakoff’s (1973) politeness principles as theoretical bases. In particular, analysis was focused on particular communication effects produced by the flouting of maxims.
The frequency of maxim flouting was highest in best replies to sports news, and next in those to current affair news and those to entertainment news. Best replies in each area of sports, current affairs, and entertainment showed distinctive characteristics. Commonly, however, the flouting of quality maxims was most frequent in all the areas, and next the maxims of politeness, quantity, relevance, and attitude in order of frequency.
The flouting of quality maxims was made mainly through hyperbole and metaphor. The prevalent dialog strategies of the best replies were emphasizing the speaker’s opinion through hyperbolic expressions, and using many idiomatic metaphoric expressions and original metaphoric expressions. Next, for the flouting of politeness maxims, this study examined the objects of polite expression, grouping them into ‘people at issue,’ ‘reporters,’ and ‘netizens.’ Politeness maxims were flouted most often when ‘people at issue’ were set up as a superficial audience. This may be regarded as a dialog strategy for creating consensus with the actual audience (netizens) through impoliteness to the superficial audience. In addition, the flouting of quantity maxims was observed more when the quantity of information provided was too small than when it was too much, and in this way, the way of seeking maximum communication through minimum expression was preferred. Lastly, the flouting of relevance and attitude maxims was not frequent but it played the role of presenting satires and humors effectively.
Based on this analysis, the dialog strategies of best replies through the flouting of maxims are summarized as follows: (ⅰ) Speaking gracefully: utter in an appropriate way according to the type of related texts; (ⅱ) Speaking hyperbolically: deliver the speaker’s intention intensely through hyperbole; (ⅲ) Speaking metaphorically: utilize both original metaphoric expressions and idiomatic metaphoric expressions; (ⅳ) Speaking impolitely: sympathize with the actual audience through impoliteness to superficial audience; (ⅴ) Speaking in slang: maximize knowledge sharing with the audience and minimize verbal expressions; (ⅵ) Speaking playfully: express satires and humors through word play.