Implications of what is said
The difference between what is stated and what is meant
Fortunately, communication is not fully explicit. When people talk and write, they leave things unsaid. Writers assume, and rightly so, that their audience is intelligent enough to infer the intended meaning ‘between the lines’. If I am sitting in a train compartment, smoking a cigarette, and the person opposite to me says ‘This is a no smoking compartment,’ she is not describing a train rule, but urging me to put out the cigarette. An issue that has generated much discussion is the question how exactly we succeed in reading and hearing between the lines. The classic linguistic account is by Paul Grice, who distinguishes between literal meaning and non-literal meaning. His account basically is that if the literal meaning is not contextually appropriate the hearer/reader starts a search for a non-literal meaning, based on Grice’s so-called conversational maxims.