The intuitive basis of implicature: Relevance theoretic implicitness versus Gricean implying

Michael Haugh

Abstract

The notion of implicature was first introduced by Grice (1967, 1989), who defined it essentially as what is communicated less what is said. This definition contributed in part to the proliferation of a large number of different species of implicature by neo-Griceans. Relevance theorists have responded to this by proposing a shift back to the distinction between explicit and implicit meaning (corresponding to explicature and implicature respectively). However, they appear to have pared down the concept of implicature too much, ignoring phenomena which may be better treated as implicatures in their over-generalisation of the concept of explicature. These problems have their roots in the fact that explicit and implicit meaning intuitively overlap, and thus do not provide a suitable basis for distinguishing implicature from other types of pragmatic phenomena. An alternative conceptualisation of implicature based on the concept of implying with which Grice originally associated his notion of implicature is thus proposed. From this definition it emerges that implicature constitutes something else inferred by the addressee that is not literally said by the speaker. Instead, it is meant in addition to what the literally speaker says, and consequently, it is defeasible like all other types of pragmatic phenomena.

Keywords:
Quick links
A browser-friendly version of this article is not yet available. View PDF
Ariel, Mira
(2002a) The demise of a unique concept of literal meaning. Journal of Pragmatics 34.4: 361-402. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
(2002b) Privileged interactional interpretations. Journal of Pragmatics 34.8: 1003-1044. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Bach, Kent
(1994) Conversational impliciture. Mind and Language 9.2: 124-162. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(2001a) You don't say? Synthese 128.1/2: 15-44. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(2001b) Seemingly semantic intuitions. In Joseph Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & David Shier (eds.), Meaning and Truth: Investigations in Philosophical Semantics. New York: Seven Bridges Press, pp. 21-33.Google Scholar
Bezuidenhout, Anne, & J. Cooper Cutting
(2002) Literal meaning, miminal propositions, and pragmatic processing. Journal of Pragmatics 34.4: 433-356. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Blakemore, Diane
(1987) Semantic Constraints on Relevance. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
(2000) Indicators and procedures: Nevertheless and but . Journal of Linguistics 36: 463-486. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Breheny, Richard
(2002) The current state of (radical) pragmatics in the cognitive sciences. Mind and Language 17.1/2: 169-187. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Carston, Robyn
(1988) Implicature, explicature, and truth-theoretic semantics. In Ruth Kempson (ed.), Mental Representations: The Interface between Language and Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 155-181.Google Scholar
(1995) Quantity maxims and generalised implicature. Lingua 96: 213-244. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
(1996) Enrichment and loosening: Complementary processes in deriving the proposition expressed. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 8: 61-88.Google Scholar
(1998a) Postscript (1995). In Asa Kasher (ed.), Pragmatics. Critical Concepts. Volume IV. London: Routledge, pp. 464-479.Google Scholar
(1998b) Informativeness, relevance and scalar implicature. In Robyn Carston, & Seiichi Uchida (eds.), Relevance Theory. Applications and Implications. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 179-236. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
(2000) Explicature and Semantics. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 12: 1-44.Google Scholar
(2001) Relevance theory and the saying/implicating distinction. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 13: 1-34.Google Scholar
(2002) Linguistic meaning, communicated meaning and cognitive pragmatics. Mind and Language 17.1/2: 127-148. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
forthcoming) Thoughts and Utterances: The pragmatics of explicit communication. Oxford: Blackwell. Crossref
Davis, Wayne
(1998) Implicature. Intention, Convention, and Principle in the Failure of Gricean Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Gauker, Christopher
(2001) Situated inference versus conversational implicature. Nous 35.2: 163-189. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Gibbs, Raymond Jr
(1999a) Interpreting what speakers say and implicate. Brain and Language 68.3: 466-485. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1999b) Speakers' intuitions and pragmatic theory. Cognition 69.3: 355-359. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(2000) Inferring what speakers say and what they mean. Paper presented at the Seventh International Pragmatics Conference, Budapest, Hungary.
Gibbs, Raymond Jr., & Jessica Moise
(1997) Pragmatics in understanding what is said. Cognition 62.1: 51-74. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Grice, Paul
(1967) Logic and Conversation, William James Lectures.Google Scholar
(1989) Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Groefsema, M
(1992) 'Can you pass the salt?': A short-circuited implicature. Lingua 87: 103-135. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Hamblin, Jennifer
(1999) Understanding what is said and what is implicated. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Hawley, Patrick
(2002) What is said. Journal of Pragmatics 34.8: 969-991. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Haugh, Michael
in progress) Politeness implicature in Japanese. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Queensland.
Horn, Laurence, & Samuel Bayer
(1984) Short-circuited implicature: A negative contribution. Linguistics and Philosophy 7: 397-414. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Iten, Corrine
(2000a)  Conventional implicature, tone and procedural meaning . Paper presented at the 7th International Pragmatics Conference, Budapest, Hungary.
(2000b) 'Non-Truth-Conditional' Meaning. Relevance and Concessives. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of London, London.
Kandolf, Cindy
(1993) On the difference between explicatures and implicatures in relevance theory. Nordic Journal of Linguistics 16: 33-46. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Leech, Geoffrey
(1983) Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Levinson, Stephen
(1989) A review of Relevance. Journal of Linguistics 25.2: 455-472. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(2000) Presumptive Meanings. The Theory of Generalised Conversational Implicature. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.  BoP. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Matthews, P.H
(1997) Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Morgan, Jerry
(1978) Two types of convention in indirect speech acts. In Peter Cole (ed.), Syntax and Semantics, Volume 9. Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press, pp. 261-280.Google Scholar
Nicolle, Steve, & Billy Clark
(1999) Experimental pragmatics and what is said: A response to Gibbs and Moise. Cognition 69.3: 337-354. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Noro, Ken
(1979) Generalized conversational implicature. Sophia Linguistica 5: 75-83.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Noveck, Ira
(2001) When children are more logical than adults: Experimental investigations of scalar implicature. Cognition 78.2: 165-188. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Obana, Yasuko
(2000) Understanding Japanese. A Handbook for Learners and Teachers. Tokyo: Kurosio.Google Scholar
Papafragou, Anna
(2000) Early communication: Beyond speech act theory. In Catherine Howell, Sarah Fish, & Thea Keith-Lucas (eds.), Proceedings of the 24th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, Volume 2. Sommerville, Mass: Cascadilla Press, pp. 571-582.Google Scholar
(2002) Mindreading and verbal communication. Mind and Language 17.1/2: 55-67. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Recanati, François
(1989) The pragmatics of what is said. Mind and Language 4: 295-329. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1993) Direct Reference. From Language to Thought. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
(2002) Does linguistic communication rest on inference? Mind and Language17.1/2: 105-126. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Ruiz de Mendoza Ibanez, Francisco
(1998) Implicatures, explicatures and conceptual mappings. In Jose Luis Cifuentes (ed.), Estudios de Linguistica Cognitiva I. Alicante, Spain: University de Alicante, pp. 419-431.Google Scholar
(1999) The role of cognitive mechanisms in making inferences. Journal of English Studies (University of La Rioja) 1: 237-255.  MetBib CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Ruiz de Mendoza Ibanez, Francisco, & Lorena Perez Hernandez
(2001) Cognitive operations and pragmatic implication, Sincronia (E-Journal of Culture Studies) (Fall volume). http://​sincronia​.cusch​.udg​.mx​/fall01​.htmGoogle Scholar
Sadock, Jerry
(1978) On testing for conversational implicature. In Peter Cole (ed.), Syntax and Semantics Volume 9. Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press, pp. 281-297.Google Scholar
Saul, Jennifer
(2002) Speaker meaning, what is said, and what is implicated. Nous 36.2: 228-248. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Sperber, Dan, & Deirdre Wilson
(1995) Relevance. Communication and Cognition. (2nd edition). Oxford: Blackwell.  MetBibGoogle Scholar
(2002) Pragmatics, modularity, and mind-reading. Mind and Language 17. 1/2: 3-23. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Vicente, Begona
(1998) Against blurring the explicit/implicit distinction. Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses 11: 241-258. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Wilson, Deirdre, & Dan Sperber
(1993) Linguistic form and relevance. Lingua 90: 1-25. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1998) Pragmatics and time. In Robyn Carston, & Seiichi Uchida (eds.), Relevance Theory. Applications and Implications. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 1-22. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(2000) Truthfulness and relevance. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 12: 215-257.Google Scholar
Yus, Francisco
(1999) Misunderstandings and explicit/implicit communication. Pragmatics 9.4: 487-517.  BoP CrossrefGoogle Scholar