We experience resistance when we are engaging with fictional works which present certain (for example, morally objectionable) claims. But in virtue of what properties do sentences trigger this ‘imaginative resistance’? I argue that while most accounts of imaginative resistance have looked for semantic properties in virtue of which sentences trigger it, this is unlikely to give us a coherent account, because imaginative resistance is a pragmatic phenomenon. It works in a way very similar to Paul Grice's widely analysed ‘conversational (...) class='Hi'>implicature’. (shrink)
Bare plurals (dogs) behave in ways that quantified plurals (some dogs) do not. For instance, while the sentence John owns dogs implies that John owns more than one dog, its negation John does not own dogs does not mean “John does not own more than one dog”, but rather “John does not own a dog”. A second puzzling behavior is known as the dependent plural reading; when in the scope of another plural, the ‘more than one’ meaning of the plural (...) is not distributed over, but the existential force of the plural is. For example, My friends attend good schools requires that each of my friends attend one good school, not more, while at the same time being inappropriate if all my friends attend the same school. This paper shows that both these phenomena, and others, arise from the same cause. Namely, the plural noun itself does not assert ‘more than one’, but rather the plural denotes a predicate that is number neutral (unspecified for cardinality). The ‘more than one’ meaning arises as an scalar implicature, relying on the scalar relationship between the bare plural and its singular alternative, and calculated in a sub-sentential domain; namely, before existential closure of the event variable. Finally, implications of this analysis will be discussed for the analysis of the quantified noun phrases that interact with bare plurals, such as indefinite numeral DPs (three boys), and singular universals (every boy). (shrink)
It has been generally assumed that certain categories of numerical expressions, such as ‘more than n’, ‘at least n’, and ‘fewer than n’, systematically fail to give rise to scalar implicatures in unembedded declarative contexts. Various proposals have been developed to explain this perceived absence. In this paper, we consider the relevance of scale granularity to scalar implicature, and make two novel predictions: first, that scalar implicatures are in fact available from these numerical expressions at the appropriate granularity level, (...) and second, that these implicatures are attenuated if the numeral has been previously mentioned or is otherwise salient in the context. We present novel experimental data in support of both of these predictions, and discuss the implications of this for recent accounts of numerical quantifier usage. (shrink)
Is language understanding a special case of social cognition? To help evaluate this view, we can formalize it as the rational speech-act theory: Listeners assume that speakers choose their utterances approximately optimally, and listeners interpret an utterance by using Bayesian inference to “invert” this model of the speaker. We apply this framework to model scalar implicature (“some” implies “not all,” and “N” implies “not more than N”). This model predicts an interaction between the speaker's knowledge state and the listener's (...) interpretation. We test these predictions in two experiments and find good fit between model predictions and human judgments. (shrink)
Várias tentativas foram feitas pelos teóricos da referência direta para acomodar o dado intuitivo da opacidade referencial— a não ocorrência de substituição mútua salva veritate de nomes próprios co-referenciais nas orações subordinadas, precedidas por ‘que’, nas orações em que se atribuem atitudes proposicionais. A teoria defendida por Nathan Salmon, em seu livro de 1986 Frege’s Puzzle , é provavelmente a versão mais bem elaborada daquilo a que adiante nos referimos como ‘a Teoria Implicativa’. Salmon sustenta que a opacidade referencial é (...) uma ilusão decorrente de nossa incapacidade de distinguir o conteúdo semântico de atribuições de crenças das suas ‘partilhas pragmáticas’, como Salmon as chama. Lamentavelmente, seu trabalho deixa de todo misterioso o mecanismo rotineiro de produção de tais partilhas pragmáticas. Salmon limita-se a sugerir vagamente que estão envolvidas implicaturas conversacionais griceanas. Minha tese central neste artigo é a de que Salmon está equivocado, visto que as partilhas pragmáticas necessárias à sua teoria não satisfazem o critério de cancelabilidade , o que deveria ocorrer sempre que estamos às voltas com uma genuína implicatura conversacional. O argumento apresentado, até onde o saibamos, é inteiramente original. DOI:10.5007/1808-1711.2010v14n3p405. (shrink)
In everyday conversations we often convey information that goes above and beyond what we strictly speaking say: exaggeration and irony are obvious examples. H.P. Grice introduced the technical notion of a conversational implicature in systematizing the phenomenon of meaning one thing by saying something else. In introducing the notion, Grice drew a line between what is said, which he understood as being closely related to the conventional meaning of the words uttered, and what is conversationally implicated, which can be (...) inferred from the fact that an utterance has been made in context. Since Grice’s seminal work, conversational implicatures have become one of the major research areas in pragmatics. This article introduces the notion of a conversational implicature, discusses some of the key issues that lie at the heart of the recent debate, and explicates tests that allow us to reliably distinguish between semantic entailments and conventional implicatures on the one hand and conversational implicatures on the other. (shrink)
Are all instances of the T-schema assertable? I argue that they are not. The reason is the presence of conventional implicature in a language. Conventional implicature is meant to be a component of the rule-based content that a sentence can have, but it makes no contribution to the sentence's truth-conditions. One might think that a conventional implicature is like a force operator. But it is not, since it can enter into the scope of logical operators. It follows (...) that the semantic content of a sentence is not given simply by its truth-conditional content. So not all instances of the T-schema are assertable in the relevant sense. Consequently, there is a strong case to be made against truth-conditional semantics of the disquotational variety and deflationism about truth. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against a criticism by Matthew Weiner to Grice’s thesis that cancellability is a necessary condition for conversational implicature. I argue that the purported counterexamples fail because the supposed failed cancellation in the cases Weiner presents is not meant as a cancellation but as a reinforcement of the implicature. I moreover point out that there are special situations in which the supposed cancellation may really work as a cancellation.
Grice made a distinction between what is said by a speaker of a verbal utterance and what is implicated. What is implicated might be either conven- tional (that is, largely generated by the standing meaning of certain linguistic expressions, such as ‘but’ and ‘moreover’) or conversational (that is, dependent on the assumption that the speaker is following certain rational principles of conversational exchange). What appears to have bound these rather disparate aspects of utterance meaning together, and so motivated the common (...) label of implicature, was that they did not contribute to the truthconditional content of the utterance, that is, the proposition it expressed, or what the speaker of the utterance said. (shrink)
Some linguistic phenomena can occur in uses of language in thought, whereas others only occur in uses of language in communication. I argue that this distinction can be used as a test for whether a linguistic phenomenon can be explained via Grice’s theory of conversational implicature (or any theory similarly based on principles governing conversation). I argue further, on the basis of this test, that conversational implicature cannot be used to explain quantifier domain restriction or apparent (...) substitution failures involving coreferential names, but that it must be used to explain the phenomenon of referential uses of definite descriptions. I conclude with a brief discussion of the relevance of this point to the semantics/pragmatics distinction. (shrink)
I’ve known about conversational implicature a lot longer than I’ve known Larry. In 1967 I read Grice’s “Logical and Conversation” in mimeograph, shortly after his William James lectures, and I read its precursor “(Implication),” section III of “The Causal Theory of Perception”, well before that. And I’ve thought, read, and written about implicature off and on ever since. Nevertheless, I know a lot less about it than Larry does, and that’s not even taking into account everything he has (...) uncovered about what was said on the subject long before Grice, even centuries before. So, now that I’ve betrayed my ignorance, I’ll display my insolence. I’m going to identify the most pervasive and pernicious misconceptions about implicature that I’ve noticed over the years. (shrink)
Paul Grice’s theory of Conversational Implicature is, by all accounts, one of the great achievements of the past fifty years -- both of analytic philosophy and of the empirical study of language. Its guiding idea is that constraints on the use of sentences, and information conveyed by utterances of them, arise not only from their conventional meanings (the information they semantically encode) but also from the communicative uses to which they are put. In his view, the overriding goal of (...) most forms of communication is the cooperative exchange of information -- the pursuit of which generates norms for its rational and efficient achievement. Among them are Grice’s conversational maxims. (shrink)
Conversational implicatures are easy to grasp for the most part. But it is another matter to give a rational reconstruction of how they are grasped. We argue that Grice's attempt to do this fails. We distinguish two sorts of cases: (1) those in which we grasp the implicature by asking ourselves what would the speaker have to believe given that what he said is such as is required by the talk exchange; (2) those in which we grasp the (...) class='Hi'>implicature by asking ourselves why it is that what the speaker said is so obviously not such as is required by the talk exchange. We argue that Grice's account does not fit those cases falling under (2). (shrink)
Abstract: The Gricean theory of conversational implicature has always been plagued by data suggesting that what would seem to be conversational inferences may occur within the scope of operators like believe , for example; which for bona fide implicatures should be an impossibility. Concentrating my attention on scalar implicatures, I argue that, for the most part, such observations can be accounted for within a Gricean framework, and without resorting to local pragmatic inferences of any kin d. However, there remains (...) a small class of marked cases that cannot be treated as conversational implicatures, and they do require a local mode of pragmatic interpretation. (shrink)
Moral assertions express attitudes, but it is unclear how. This paper examines proposals by David Copp, Stephen Barker, and myself that moral attitudes are expressed as implicature (Grice), and Copp's and Barker's claim that this supports expressivism about moral speech acts. I reject this claim on the ground that implicatures of attitude are more plausibly conversational than conventional. I argue that Copp's and my own relational theory of moral assertions is superior to the indexical theory offered by Barker and (...) Jamie Dreier, and that since the relational theory supports conversational implicatures of attitude, expressive conventions would be redundant. Furthermore, moral expressions of attitude behave like conversational and not conventional implicatures, and there are reasons for doubting that conventions of the suggested kind could exist. (shrink)
1. Implicature: some basic oppositions IMPLICATURE is a component of speaker meaning that constitutes an aspect of what is meant in a speaker’s utterance without being part of what is said. What a speaker intends to communicate is characteristically far richer than what she directly expresses; linguistic meaning radically underdetermines the message conveyed and understood. Speaker S tacitly exploits pragmatic principles to bridge this gap and counts on hearer H to invoke the same principles for the purposes of (...) utterance interpretation. The contrast between the said and the meant, and derivatively between the said and the implicated (the meant-but-unsaid), dates back to the fourth century rhetoricians Servius and Donatus, who characterized litotes—the figure of pragmatic understatement—as a figure in which we say less but mean more (“minus dicimus et plus significamus”; see Hoffmann 1987 and Horn 1991a for discussion). In the classical Gricean model, the bridge from what is said (the literal content of the uttered sentence, computed directly from its grammatical structure with the reference of indexicals resolved) to what is communicated is constructed through implicature. As an aspect of speaker meaning, implicatures are by definition distinct from the non-logical inferences that the hearer draws; it is a category mistake to attribute implicatures either to hearers or to sentences (e.g. P and Q) and subsentential expressions (e.g. some). But we can systematically (at least for generalized implicatures; see below) correlate the speaker’s intention to implicate q (in uttering p in context C), the expression p that carries the implicature in C, and the inference of q induced by the speaker’s utterance of p in C. (shrink)
H. P. Grice virtually discovered the phenomenon of implicature (to denote the implications of an utterance that are not strictly implied by its content). Gricean theory claims that conversational implicatures can be explained and predicted using general psycho-social principles. This theory has established itself as one of the orthodoxes in the philosophy of language. Wayne Davis argues controversially that Gricean theory does not work. He shows that any principle-based theory understates both the intentionality of what a speaker implicates and (...) the conventionality of what a sentence implicates. In developing his argument the author explains that the psycho-social principles actually define the social function of implicature conventions, which contribute to the satisfaction of those principles. This challenging book will be of importance to philosophers of language and linguists, especially those working in pragmatics and sociolinguistics. (shrink)
As Grice defined it, a speaker conversationally implicates that p only if the speaker expects the hearer to recognize that the speaker thinks that p. This paper argues that in the sorts of cases that Grice took as paradigmatic examples of conversational implicature there is in fact no need for the hearer to consider what the speaker might thus have in mind. Instead, the hearer might simply make an inference from what the speaker literally says and the situation in (...) which the utterance takes place. In addition, a number of sources of the illusion of conversational implicatures in Grice's sense are identified and diagnosed. (shrink)
This fresh look at the philosophy of language focuses on the interface between a theory of literal meaning and pragmatics--a philosophical examination of the relationship between meaning and language use and its contexts. Here, Atlas develops the contrast between verbal ambiguity and verbal generality, works out a detailed theory of conversational inference using the work of Paul Grice on Implicature as a starting point, and gives an account of their interface as an example of the relationship between Chomsky's Internalist (...) Semantics and Language Performance. Atlas then discusses consequences of his theory of the Interface for the distinction between metaphorical and literal language, for Grice's account of meaning, for the Analytic/Synthetic distinction, for Meaning Holism, and for Formal Semantics of Natural Language. This book makes an important contribution to the philosophy of language and will appeal to philosophers, linguists, and cognitive scientists. (shrink)
Like Bennett's account of ‘even’, my analysis incorporates the following plausible and widespread intuitions. (a) The word ‘even’ does not make a truth-functional difference; it makes a difference only in conventional implicature. In particular, ‘even’ functions neither as a universal quantifier, nor amost ormany quantifier. The only quantified statement that ‘EvenA isF’ implies is the existential claim ‘There is anx (namely,A) that isF’, but this implication is nothing more than what the Equivalence Thesis already demands. (b) ‘Even’ is epistemic (...) in character, implying some type of unexpectedness, surprise, or unlikelihood. Moreover, despite Kay's arguments to the contrary, this implication is part of the meaning of ‘even’. (c) ‘Even’ is a scalar term, since unexpectedness comes in degrees. And, finally, (d) the felicity of an ‘even’-sentenceS requires thatS* be sufficiently surprising in comparison to its true neighbors. However,pace Bennett, being more surprising than just one true neighbor will not suffice. At the same time, being more surprising than all true neighbors is unnecessary. Suffice it thatS* is more surprising than most true neighbors. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss some of the criteria that are widely used in the linguistic and philosophical literature to classify an aspect of meaning as either semantic or pragmatic. With regards to the case of scalar implicature (e.g. some Fs are G implying that not all Fs are G), these criteria are not ultimately conclusive, either in the results of their application, or in the interpretation of the results with regards to the semantics/pragmatics distinction (or in both). I (...) propose a psychologically relevant criterion, that of the primary or secondary role of context. This criterion applies to sub-personal processes that derive the interpretation of a scalar term rather than to the eventual interpretation of the term, and there exist well-established experimental paradigms that can generate quantitative data. I present recent studies on scalar implicature which employ such off-line and real-time paradigms, aiming to demonstrate how research on the semantics/pragmatics distinction can benefit from experimental investigation. (shrink)
We review Potts’ influential book on the semantics of conventional implicature (CI), offering an explication of his technical apparatus and drawing out the proposal’s implications, focusing on the class of CIs he calls supplements. While we applaud many facets of this work, we argue that careful considerations of the pragmatics of CIs will be required in order to yield an empirically and explanatorily adequate account.
In this paper we present a modest contribution to the debate on the treatment of the pragmatically determined aspects of utterance meaning. Different authors (Bach 1994, Carston 1988 and 1998, Recanati 1989, Sperber and Wilson 1986, Levinson 2000) have defended different notions (explicature, impliciture, and implicature) to account for the phenomena labeled as Generalized Conversational Implicatures (GCI) by Grice (1989). We offer some arguments for treating some of these examples as implicitures, and for a better characterization of the notion (...) of what is said. (shrink)
The idea is that, in a wide range of contexts, utterances of the sentences in (a) in each case will communicate the assumption in (b) in each case (or something closely akin to it, there being a certain amount of contextually governed variation in the speaker's propositional attitude and so the scope of the negation). These scalar inferences are taken to be one kind of (generalized) conversational implicature. As is the case with pragmatic inference quite generally, these inferences are (...) defeasible (cancellable), which distinguishes them from entailments, and they are nondetachable, which distinguishes them from conventional implicatures. The core idea is that the choice of a weaker element from a scale of elements ordered in terms of semantic strength (that is, numbers of entailments) tends to implicate that, as far as the speaker knows, none of the stronger elements in the scale holds in this instance. The pattern is quite clear in (1) and (2), where the weak/strong alternatives are some/all and five/six respectively. In the case of (3), the stronger expression must be intelligent and good-hearted which entails intelligent; what Y's utterance implicates is that Mary does not have the two properties: intelligence and good-heartedness, so that, given the proposition expressed (Mary is intelligent) it follows, deductively, that she is not good-hearted, in Y's opinion. The example in (4) involves a scale inversion due to the negation, so that the weak/strong alternatives are not necessarily/not possibly; the negation which the scalar inference generates creates a double negation, which is eliminated giving possibly. (shrink)
I argue for a subsumption of any version of Grice’s first quantity maxim posited to underlie scalar implicature, by developing the idea of implicature recovery as a kind of explanatory inference, as e.g. in science. I take the applicable model to be contrastive explanation, while following van Fraassen’s analysis of explanation as an answer to a why-question. A scalar implicature is embedded in such an answer, one that meets two probabilistic constraints: the probability of the answer, and (...) ‘favoring’. I argue that besides having application at large, outside of linguistic interpretation, these constraints largely account not only for implicatures based on strength order, logical and otherwise, but also for unordered cases. I thus suggest that Grice’s maxim and its descendants are expressions of general explanatory constraints, as they happen to be manifested in this particular explanatory task. I conclude by briefly discussing how I accordingly view Grice’s system outside of scalar implicature. (shrink)
I first try to identify what problem, if any conceptual art poses for philosophical aesthetics. It is harder than one might think to formulate some claim about traditional art with which much conceptual art is inconsistent. The idea that sense experience plays a special role in the appreciation of traditional artworks falls foul of literature. Instead I focus on the idea that conceptual art exhibits a particularly loose relation between the properties with which we engage in appreciating it and the (...) properties on which those artistic properties depend. In Part II, I then offer an account of how conceptual art communicates, and attempt to use it to illuminate some prominent features of that art. I suggest it works by frustrating certain fundamental expectations with which we approach it. In this it is analogous to certain ways of indirectly communicating in conversation – certain kinds of conversational implicature. At the close, I ask whether this account allows us to address the problem identified in Part I. (shrink)
. Two simple generalized conversational implicatures are investigated :(1) the quantitative scalar implicature associated with ‘or’, and (2) the ‘not-and’-implicature, which is the dual to (1). It is argued that it is more fruitful to consider these implicatures as rules of interpretation and to model them in an algebraic fashion than to consider them as nonmonotonic rules of inference and to model them in a proof-theoretic way.
[First Paragraph] In his recent book, Implicature: Intention, Convention, and Principle in the Failure of Gricean Theory (1998), Wayne Davis argues that the Gricean approach to conversational implicature is bankrupt and offers a new approach of his own. Although I disagree with Davis both in general and in detail, I think nonetheless that the problems he raises'or close relatives of them-- are serious and important problems which should give any Gricean pause. This is an extremely worthwhile book, (...) even for those who disagree with it. (shrink)
Ethicists have long observed that unethical communication may result from texts that contain no overt falsehoods but are nevertheless misleading. Less clear, however, has been the way that context and text work together to create misleading communication. Concepts from linguistics can be used to explain implicature and indirect speech acts, two patterns which, though in themselves not unethical, may allow misinterpretations and, therefore, create potentially unethical communication. Additionally, sociolinguistic theory provides insights into why writers in business and other professions (...) are prone to use these patterns. An analysis of five cases shows that implicature and indirectness are sometimes used intentionally to deceive readers. However, their use may also reflect other motives such as the desire to mitigate negative information or to show deference to an unfamiliar or powerful reader. Although implicature and indirectness are not intended to deceive in these cases, they can lead to a loss of clarity and to subsequent ethical problems when readers misinterpret texts. (shrink)
This paper is a contribution to the program of constructing formal representations of pragmatic aspects of human reasoning. We propose a formalization within the framework of Adaptive Logics of the exclusivity implicature governing the connective ‘or’.Keywords: exclusivity implicature, Adaptive Logics.
Existential bare plurals (e.g. dogs) have the same semantics as explicit existentials (e.g. a dog or some dogs) but different pragmatics. In addition to entailing the existence of a set of individuals, existential bare plurals implicate that this set is suitable for some purpose. The suitability implicature is a form of what has been variously called informativeness-based or R-based implicature. Condoravdi (1992, 1994) and others have claimed that bare plurals have a third reading (in addition to the generic (...) and the existential), sometimes called quasi-universal. However, the suitability implicature is sufficient to account for the quasi-universal interpretation, without the need to stipulate a distinct reading of bare plurals. (shrink)
In this paper, I give an analysis of neg-raising inferences as scalar implicatures. The main motivation for this account as opposed to a presupposition-based approach like Gajewski (Linguist Philos 30(3):289–328, 2007) comes from the differences between presuppositions and neg-raising inferences. In response to this issue, Gajewski (2007) argues that neg-raising predicates are soft presuppositional triggers and adopts the account of how their presuppositions arise by Abusch (J Semantics 27(1):1–44, 2010). However, I argue that there is a difference between soft triggers (...) and neg-raising predicates in their behavior in embeddings; a difference that is straightforwardly accounted for in the present approach. Furthermore, by adopting Abusch’s (2010) account of soft triggers, Gajewski (2007) inherits the assumptions of a pragmatic principle of disjunctive closure and of a non-standard interaction between semantics and pragmatics—assumptions that are not needed by the present proposal, which is just based on a regular theory of scalar implicatures. I also show that the arguments that Gajewski (2007) presents in favor of the presuppositional account can be explained also by the scalar implicatures-based approach proposed here. Finally, while the main point of the paper is a comparison with the presuppositional account, I sketch a preliminary comparison with more syntactic approaches to neg-raising. (shrink)
All humans can interpret sentences of their native language quickly and without effort. Working from the perspective of generative grammar, the contributors investigate three mental mechanisms, widely assumed to underlie this ability: compositional semantics, implicature computation and presupposition computation. This volume brings together experts from semantics and pragmatics to bring forward the study of interconnections between these three mechanisms. The contributions develop new insights into important empirical phenomena; for example, approximation, free choice, accommodation, and exhaustivity effects.
This article argues that what Grice termed ‘particularized conversational implicatures’ can be divided into two types. In some cases, it is possible to reconstruct the inference from the explicit content of the utterance to the implicature without employing a premise to the effect that that the speaker expressed that content (by means of an utterance). I call these ‘material implicatures’. Those whose reconstruction relies on a premise about the speaker's verbal behaviour, by contrast, I call ‘behavioural implicatures’. After showing (...) that the division is theoretically significant, I ask whether current pragmatic theory is able to accommodate it. I conclude that, while (neo)-Gricean pragmatics cannot do so straightforwardly, the distinction is already implicit in Relevance Theory. The article ends by considering the question of whether, in the light of previous discussion, speaker meaning really is always an instance of non-natural meaning. (shrink)
A conversational implicature is an inference that consists in attributing to a speaker an implicit meaning that goes beyond the explicit linguistic meaning of an utterance. This paper experimentallyinvestigates scalar implicature, a paradigmatic case of implicature in which a speaker's use of a term like Some indicates that the speaker had reasons not to use a more informative one from the samescale, e.g. All; thus, Some implicates Not all. Pragmatic theorists like Grice would predict that a pragmatic (...) interpretation is determined only after its explicit, logical meaning is incorporated (e.g. whereSome means at least one). The present work aims to developmentally unpack this prediction by showing how younger, albeit competent, reasoners initially treat a relatively weak term logically beforebecoming aware of its pragmatic potential. Three experiments are presented. Experiment 1 presents a modal reasoning scenario offering an exhaustive set of conclusions; critical among these isparticipants' evaluation of a statement expressing Might be x when the context indicates that the stronger Must be x is true. The conversationally-infelicitous Might be x can be understood logically(e.g. as compatible with Must) or pragmatically (as exclusive to must). Results from five-, seven-, and nine-year-olds as well as adults revealed that a) seven-year-olds are the youngest to demonstratemodal competence overall and that; b) seven- and nine-year-olds treat the infelicitous Might logically significantly more often than adults do. Experiment 2 showed how training with the modal taskcan suspend the implicatures for adults. Experiment 3 provides converging evidence of the developmental pragmatic effect with the French existential quantifier Certains (Some). Whilelinguistically-sophisticated children (eight- and ten-year-olds olds) typically treat Certains as compatible with Tous (All), adults are equivocal. These results, which are consistent with unanticipatedfindings in classic developmental papers, reveal a consistent ordering in which representations of weak scalar terms tend to be treated logically by young competent participants and morepragmatically by older ones. This work is also relevant to the treatment of scalar implicatures in the reasoning literature. (shrink)
This study examined the ability to comprehend conventional and non-conventional implicatures, and the effect of proficiency and learning context (foreign language learners vs. heritage learners) on comprehension of implicature in L2 Chinese. Participants were three groups of college students of Chinese: elementary-level foreign language learners ( n =21), advanced-level foreign language learners ( n =25), and advanced-level heritage learners ( n =25). They completed a 36-item computer-delivered listening test measuring their ability to comprehend three types of implicature: conventional (...) indirect refusals, conventional indirect opinions, and non-conventional indirect opinions. Comprehension was analyzed for accuracy (scores on a multiple-choice measure) and comprehension speed (average time taken to answer items correctly). There was a significant effect of implicature type on accuracy, but not on comprehension speed. A significant effect of participant group was observed on accuracy, but the effect was mixed on comprehension speed. (shrink)
1. Sentences have implicatures. (11, 14, 19)** 2. Implicatures are inferences. (12. 14) 3. Implicatures can’t be entailments. 4. Gricean maxims apply only to implicatures. (16, 17) 5. For what is implicated to be figured out, what is said must be determined first. (12, 13) 6. All pragmatic implications are implicatures. 7. Implicatures are not part of the truth-conditional contents of utterances. (20) 8. If something is meant but unsaid, it must be implicated. (20) 9. Scalar “implicatures” are implicatures. (11) (...) 10. Conventional “implicatures” are implicatures. (shrink)
We define a notion of projective meaning which encompasses both classical presuppositions and phenomena which are usually regarded as non-presuppositional but which also display projection behavior—Horn’s assertorically inert entailments, conventional implicatures (both Grice’s and Potts’) and some conversational implicatures. We argue that the central feature of all projective meanings is that they are not-at-issue, defined as a relation to the question under discussion. Other properties differentiate various sub-classes of projective meanings, one of them the class of presuppositions according to Stalnaker. (...) This principled taxonomy predicts differences in behavior unexpected on other models among the various conventional triggers and conversational implicatures, while holding promise for a general, explanatory account of projection which applies to all the types of meanings considered. (shrink)
One of the tasks of language learning is the discovery of the intricate division of labour between the lexical-semantic content of an expression and the pragmatic inferences the expression can be used to convey. Here we investigate experimentally the development of the semantics– pragmatics interface, focusing on Greek-speaking five-year-olds’ interpretation of aspectual expressions such as arxizo (‘ start ’) and degree modifiers such as miso (‘ half ’) and mexri ti mesi (‘ halfway ’). Such expressions are known to give (...) rise to scalar inferences crosslinguistically : for instance, start, even though compatible with expressions denoting completion (e.g. finish), is typically taken to implicate non-completion. Overall, our experiments reveal that children have limited success in deriving scalar implicatures from the use of aspectual verbs but they succeed with ‘ discrete ’ degree modifiers such as ‘ half ’. Furthermore, children are better at spontaneously computing scalar implicatures than judging the pragmatic appropriateness of scalar statements. Finally, children can suspend scalar implicatures in environments where they are not supported. We discuss implications of these results for the scope and limitations of children’s ability to both acquire the lexical semantics of aspectuals and to compute implicatures as part of what the speaker means. (shrink)
This article presents evidence that individual words and phrases can contribute multiple independent pieces of meaning simultaneously. Such multidimensionality is a unifying theme of the literature on conventional implicatures and expressives. I use phenomena from discourse, semantic composition, and morphosyntax to detect and explore various dimensions of meaning. I also argue that, while the meanings involved are semantically independent, they interact pragmatically to reduce underspecification and fuel pragmatic enrichment. In this article, the central case studies are appositives like Falk, the (...) CEO, and the taboo intensive damn, though discourse particles and connectives like but, even, and still play supporting roles. The primary evidence, both quantitative and qualitative, is drawn from large interview and product-review corpora, which harbor a wealth of information about the importance of these items to discourse. (shrink)
Grice’s distinction between what is said and what is implicated has greatly clarified our understanding of the boundary between semantics and pragmatics. Although border disputes still arise and there are certain difficulties with the distinction itself (see the end of §1), it is generally understood that what is said falls on the semantic side and what is implicated on the pragmatic side. But this applies only to what is..
One of the most prevalent and influential assumptions in metaethics is that our conception of the relation between moral language and motivation provides strong support to internalism about moral judgments. In the present paper, I argue that this supposition is unfounded. Our responses to the type of thought experiments that internalists employ do not lend confirmation to this view to the extent they are assumed to do. In particular, they are as readily explained by an externalist view according to which (...) there is a pragmatic and standardized connection between moral utterances and motivation. The pragmatic account I propose states that a person’s utterance of a sentence according to which she ought to ϕ conveys two things: the sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional meaning, the belief that she ought to ϕ, and her utterance carries a generalized conversational implicature to the effect that she is motivated to ϕ. This view also makes it possible to defend cognitivism against a well-known internalist argument. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that internalism about moral judgments and motivation faces a dilemma. On the one hand, a strong version of internalism is able to explain our conception of the connection between moral language and motivation, but fails to account for the notion that people who suffer from certain mental conditions need not be accordingly motivated. On the other hand, a weaker form of internalism avoids this difficulty, but fails to explain the mentioned conception concerning moral language and (...) motivation. Moreover, I argue that externalism in conjunction with a pragmatic claim which employs Grice’s concept of generalized conversational implicature is able to account for both these conceptions and that it consequently avoids the internalist dilemma. Thus, there is reason to think that this view is preferable to internalism. (shrink)
According to Steven Pinker and his associates the cooperative model of human communication fails, because evolutionary biology teaches us that most social relationships, including talk-exchange, involve combinations of cooperation and conflict. In particular, the phenomenon of the strategic speaker who uses indirect speech in order to be able to deny what he meant by a speech act (deniability of conversational implicatures) challenges the model. In reply I point out that interlocutors can aim at understanding each other (cooperation), while being in (...) conflict. Furthermore, Pinker’s strategic speaker relies on the Cooperative Principle when conveying a conversational implicature, and so non-cooperative behaviour (denial) only emerges as a response to a negative reaction from the audience. It is also doubtful in the cases Pinker presents whether a denial will successfully cancel the conversational implicature –change the audience’s interpretation of speaker’s meaning. I also argue that a strategic speaker might choose indirect speech due to the ignorability of conversational implicatures, in which case the strategic speaker can be highly cooperative. (shrink)
A sentence in the Resultative perfect licenses two inferences: (a) the occurrence of an event (b) the state caused by this event obtains at evaluation time. In this paper I show that this use of the perfect is subject to a large number of distributional restrictions that all serve to highlight the result inference at the expense of the event inference. Nevertheless, only the event inference determines the truth conditions of this use of the perfect, the result inference being a (...) unique type of conventional implicature. I argue furthermore that, since the result state is singular, the event that causes it must also be singular, whereas the Experiential perfect is purely quantificational. But in out-of-the-blue contexts the past tense is also normally interpreted as singular. This leads to a certain amount of competition between the Resultative perfect and the past tense, and it is this competition, I suggest, that maintains the conventional (non-truth conditional) result state inference. (shrink)