Conversational logic

Robin Tolmach Lakoff
Table of contents

Conversational logic (CL) can be defined briefly as a system designed to relate the ‘illogical’ (apparently non-fully informative, repetitive, unclear, irrelevant or not fully truthful) utterances common in most forms of human discourse to their rational and informative equivalents, in order to permit the rigorous analysis of language. A cornerstone of pragmatics since its development in the late 1960s, it has been subject to a great deal of interpretation and analysis, and has been tested and extended by application to several cultures and discourse genres. It has been incorporated into many academic disciplines: not only ordinary language philosophy within which it originated, and linguistics, into which it was brought in the early 1970s, but also fields as various as literary theory, cognitive psychology and psychotherapy, law, anthropology, and conversation analysis.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price.


Austin, J. L.
1962How to do things with words. Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
Brown, P. & S. C. Levinson
1987Politeness. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Freud, S.
1911–15Papers on technique. In J. Strachey & A. Freud (eds.) The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 12: 91–171. Hogarth Press. Google Scholar
Green, G. M.
1989Pragmatics and natural language understanding. Erlbaum. Google Scholar
1990The universality of conversational implicature. In K. Hall (eds.): 411–428. Google Scholar
Grice, H. P.
1967Logic and conversation. Ms. William James Lectures, Harvard University. Google Scholar
1975Logic and conversation. In P. Cole & J. L. Morgan (eds.) vol 3 Syntax and semantics: 41–58. Academic Press. Google Scholar
1978Further notes on logic and conversation. In P. Cole (ed.) vol 9 Syntax and semantics: 113–128. Academic Press. Google Scholar
1989Studies in the way of words. Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
Gumperz, J. J.
1990Conversational cooperation in social perspective. In K. Hall (eds.): 429–441. Google Scholar
Hall, K. & J-P. Koenig & M. Meacham & S. Reinman & L. A. Sutton
(eds.) 1990Proceedings of the 16th annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society; Parasession on the legacy of GriceBerkeley Linguistics Society. Google Scholar
Horn, L. R.
1984Toward a new taxonomy for pragmatic inference. In D. Schiffrin (ed.) Georgetown University round table on languages and linguistics 1984: 11–42. Georgetown University Press. Google Scholar
Lakoff, R. T.
1973The logic of politeness. In C. Corum T. C. Smith-Stark & A. Weiser (eds.) Papers from the 9th regional meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society: 345–356. Chicago Linguistic Society. Google Scholar
1989The limits of politeness. Multilingua 8(2/3): 101–129. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1990aTalking power. Basic Books. Google Scholar
1990bPhilosophy of language meets the real world. In K. Hall (eds.): 472–481. Google Scholar
Leech, G.
1983Principles of pragmatics. Longman. Google Scholar
Levinson, S. C.
1983Pragmatics. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Matsumoto, Y.
1989Politeness and conversational universals. Multilingua 8(2/3): 207–221. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ochs Keenan, E.
1976The universality of conversational implicature. Language in Society 5: 67–80. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Searle, J. R.
1969Speech acts. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1979aThe logical status of fictional discourse. In J.R. Searle ,Expression and meaning. Cambridge University Press. 58–75. Google Scholar
1979bA taxonomy of illocutionary acts. In J.R. Searle ,Expression and meaning. Cambridge University Press. 1–29. Google Scholar
Sperber, D. & D. Wilson
1986Relevance. Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
Wainer, J. & A. Maida
1990Good and bad news in formalizing generalized implicatures. In K. Hall (eds.): 530–540. Google Scholar