Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Lying is a common but controversial verbal phenomenon in human society. This paper aims to uncover the motivation and mechanism of lying as regards its definition, classification and operation by analyzing both the speaker’s production and the addressee’s interpretation process. The Relevance-Adaptation Model is adopted as its theoretical framework. Lying cases, retrieved from an American TV drama , are analyzed from different perspectives to provide concrete evidence for the theoretical assumptions.

The findings are two-fold: Theoretically, this paper formulates a working diagram of the Relevance-Adaptation Model with some modifications to the original to be better applied to the field of lying. Empirically, it supports the claim that the presumption of relevance motivates both the speaker and the addressee to lie or to process lying in the first place. Then, both communicators will enter a relevance-adaptation phase through making structural choices inter-adapt with relevant contextual correlates. An optimal lie is one which is maximally relevant and maximally adapted to the context to benefit the speaker and/or the addressee.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Antas, Jolanta
    2000O kłamstwie i kłamaniu. (‘On deception and lying’) Kraków: TAiWPN Universitas.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Augustine, St.
    1952 “On Lying.” InRoy J. Deferrari (ed.). St. Augustine: Treatises on Various Subjects (pp.47–109). New York: The Fathers of the Church.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Austin, John L.
    1962How to Do Things with Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bok, Sissela
    1989Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life. New York: Vintage books. (Updated edition).
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Buller, David. B. & Judee K. Burgoon
    1994 “Deception: Strategic and Non-strategic communication.” InJohn A. Daly & John M. Wiemann (eds.). Strategic Interpersonal Communication (pp.191–223). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Carson, Thomas L.
    2010Lying and Deception: Theory and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577415.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577415.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  7. Chen, Rong, Chunmei Hu & Lin He
    2013 “Lying between English and Chinese: An Intercultural Comparative Study.” Intercultural Pragmatics10(3): 375–401. 10.1515/ip‑2013‑0017
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2013-0017 [Google Scholar]
  8. Coleman, Linda, & Paul Kay
    1981 “Prototype Semantics: The English Word Lie.” Language57 (1): 26–44. 10.1353/lan.1981.0002
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.1981.0002 [Google Scholar]
  9. Danziger, Eve
    2010 “On Trying and Lying: Cultural Configurations of Grice’s Maxim of Quality.” Intercultural Pragmatics7 (2): 199–219. 10.1515/iprg.2010.010
    https://doi.org/10.1515/iprg.2010.010 [Google Scholar]
  10. DePaulo, Bella M., Deborah A. Kashy, Susan E. Kirkendol, Melissa M. Wyer & Jennifer A. Epstein
    1996 “Lying in Everyday Life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology70 (5): 979–995. 10.1037/0022‑3514.70.5.979
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.70.5.979 [Google Scholar]
  11. Dong, Jing
    2012A Translation Study of Variations in the Novel ‘Wolf Totem’, guided by the Relevance-Adaptation Model. Xuzhou: China University of Mining and Technology Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Dynel, Marta
    2012 “Humorous phenomena in dramatic discourse.” European Journal of Humour Research1(1): 22–60. 10.7592/EJHR2013.1.1.dynel
    https://doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2013.1.1.dynel [Google Scholar]
  13. Ekman, Paul
    1992Telling Lies. Clues to deceit in the Marketplace, Politics and Marriage. New York: Norton & Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. 1997 “Lying and Deception.” InNancy L. Stein, Peter A. Ornstein, Barbara Tversky & Charles Brainerd (Eds.). Memory for Everyday and Emotional Events (Chapter 14). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Fallis, Don
    2009 “What is lying?” The Journal of Philosophy106 (1): 29–56. 10.5840/jphil200910612
    https://doi.org/10.5840/jphil200910612 [Google Scholar]
  16. 2012 “Lying as a violation of Grice’s first Maxim of Quality.” Dialectica66 (4): 563–581. 10.1111/1746‑8361.12007
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1746-8361.12007 [Google Scholar]
  17. Grice, Paul H.
    1975 “Logic and Conversation.” InPeter Cole & Jerry L. Morgan (eds.). Syntax and SemanticsVol.3: Speech Acts (pp.41–58). New York: Academic Press. 10.1163/9789004368811_003
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004368811_003 [Google Scholar]
  18. Hardin, Karol J.
    2010 “The Spanish notion of lie: Revisiting Coleman and Kay.” Journal of Pragmatics42 (12): 3199–3213. 10.1016/j.pragma.2010.07.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.07.006 [Google Scholar]
  19. He, Ziran & Shuling Zhang
    2004 “Deception as a pragmatic strategy: An adaptation-based approach.” Journal of Foreign Languages6: 25–31.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Hornung, Melanie
    2016 “Classifying prosocial lies. An empirical approach.” International Review of Pragmatics8 (2): 219–246. 10.1163/18773109‑00802003
    https://doi.org/10.1163/18773109-00802003 [Google Scholar]
  21. Kisielewska-Krysiuk, Marta
    2016 “Lying and the Relevance-Theoretic Explicit/Implicit Distinction.” Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies25 (2):73–86.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Kupfer, Joseph
    1982 “The moral presumption against lying.” Review of Metaphysics36(1): 103–126.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Lakoff, Robin T., & Deborah Tannen
    1984 “Conversational strategy and metastrategy in a pragmatic theory: The example of scenes from a marriage.” Semiotica49 (3–4): 323–346.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Leech, Geoffrey
    1983Principles of Pragmatics, London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Mahon, James Edwin
    2008 “Two definitions of lying.” International Journal of Applied Philosophy22(2): 211–230. 10.5840/ijap200822216
    https://doi.org/10.5840/ijap200822216 [Google Scholar]
  26. Masip, Jaume, Eugenio Garrido & Carmen Herrero
    2004 “Defining deception.” Anales de Psicologia20(1):147–171.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. McCornack, Steven A.
    1992 “Information manipulation theory.” Communication Monographs59(1): 1–16. 10.1080/03637759209376245
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03637759209376245 [Google Scholar]
  28. Meibauer, Jörg
    2005 “Lying and falsely implicating.” Journal of Pragmatics37 (9): 1373–1399. 10.1016/j.pragma.2004.12.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2004.12.007 [Google Scholar]
  29. 2011 “On lying: Intentionality, implicature, and imprecision.” Intercultural Pragmatics8 (2): 277–292. 10.1515/iprg.2011.013
    https://doi.org/10.1515/iprg.2011.013 [Google Scholar]
  30. 2014Lying at the Semantics-Pragmatics Interface. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9781614510840
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9781614510840 [Google Scholar]
  31. 2018 “The Linguistics of Lying.” Annual Review of Linguistics4 (1):357–375. 10.1146/annurev‑linguistics‑011817‑045634
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011817-045634 [Google Scholar]
  32. Meltzer, Bernard M.
    2003 “Lying: Deception in human affairs.” The International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy23(6): 61–79. 10.1108/01443330310790598
    https://doi.org/10.1108/01443330310790598 [Google Scholar]
  33. Mey, Jacob L.
    2002Pragmatics: An IntroductionMalden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell. (Second edition).
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Ran, Yongping
    2004 “The Adaptation-Relevance Model of interaction and its application to situated conversational discourse.” Foreign Language Research2:28–33.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Reboul, Anne
    1994 “The description of lies in Speech Act Theory.” InHerman Parret (ed.). Pretending to communicate (pp.292–298). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110847116.292
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110847116.292 [Google Scholar]
  36. Searle, John R.
    1979Expression and Meaning: Studies in the Theory of Speech Acts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511609213
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511609213 [Google Scholar]
  37. Shibles, Warren
    1985Lying: A Critical Analysis. Whitewater, Wisc.: The Language Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Simpson, David
    1992 “Lying, Liars and Language.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research52(3): 623–640. 10.2307/2108211
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2108211 [Google Scholar]
  39. Sperber, Dan & Deirdre Wilson
    1986/1995Relevance: Communication and cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. 2015 “Beyond speaker’s meaning.” Croatian Journal of Philosophy15 (44):117–149.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Sweetser, Eve E.
    1987 “The definition of lie: an examination of the folk models underlying a semantic prototype.” InDorothy Holland & Naomi Quinn (eds.). Cultural Models in Language and Thought (pp.43–66). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511607660.003
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511607660.003 [Google Scholar]
  42. Verschueren, Jef
    1999Understanding Pragmatics. London: Arnold.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Vrij, Aldert
    2000Detecting Lies and Deceit: The Psychology of Lying and the Implications for Professional Practice. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Williams, Bernard
    2002Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Wilson, Deirdre & Dan Sperber
    2006 “Relevance Theory.” InLaurence Horn and Gregory Ward (eds.). The Handbook of Pragmatics (pp.607–632). Oxford: Blackwell. 10.1002/9780470756959.ch27
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470756959.ch27 [Google Scholar]
  46. 2012Meaning and Relevance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139028370
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139028370 [Google Scholar]
  47. Xie, Chaoqun, Ziran He & Dajin Lin
    2005 “Politeness: Myth and Truth.” Studies in Language29(2): 431–461. 10.1075/sl.29.2.07xie
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sl.29.2.07xie [Google Scholar]
  48. Yang, Ping
    2001 “The Relevance-Adaptation Model.” Journal of Foreign Languages6:21–28.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error