Implicature

Edited by Brian Robinson (Texas A&M University - Kingsville)
About this topic
Summary Paul Grice coined the term 'implicature' and its two sub-categories: conventional implicature and conversational implicature. Implicatures are what a speaker meant in addition to or instead of what was literally said. Grice originally intended implicature to serve as a gap between what a speaker said and what a speaker meant, since speakers regularly do mean more than (or something contrary to) what they literally said. While many except that implicatures fit in that gap, it is debated that they do not completely fill it. Since Grice, neo-Griceans have made various emendations to the notion of implicature. Others, have sought to account for roughly the same phenomena by different theoretical means, chiefly Relevance theorists, such as Sperber and Wilson. 
Key works The first, and most important key work is Grice's "Logic and Conversation" in Grice 1989, in which Grice lays out the initial account of implicature. Neale 1992 provides a lengthy, but thorough summary of that theory. Bach has two seminal articles on conversational implicature (Bach 1994) and conventional implicature (Bach 1999). Davis offers his arguments for the failure of the Gricean theory of implicature in Davis 1998.
Introductions Grice 1989  Grandy 1989  Neale 1992
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  1. Impliciture Vs. Explicature: What's the Difference?Kent Bach - manuscript
    I am often asked to explain the difference between my notion of impliciture (Bach 1994) and the relevance theorists’ notion of explicature (Sperber and Wilson 1986; Carston 2002). Despite the differences between the theoretical frameworks within which they operate, the two notions seem very similar. Relevance theorists describe explicatures as “developments of logical forms,” whereas I think of implicitures as “expansions” or “completions” of semantic contents (depending on whether or not the sentence’s semantic content amounts to a proposition). That is (...)
  2. Ten More Misconceptions About Implicature.Kent Bach - unknown
    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) (...)
  3. Literal Meaning.Kent Bach - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):487-492.
  4. Where Do Implicatures Come From?Rod Bertolet - 1983 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 13 (2):181 - 191.
  5. Pragmatics of Speech Actions, Handbooks of Pragmatics (HoPs) Vol. 2.Claudia Bianchi - 2013
  6. Reply to Paul Grice and Judith Baker.Donald Davidson - 1985 - In Bruce Vermazen & Merrill B. Hintikka (eds.), Essays on Davidson: Actions and Events. Oxford University Press. pp. 201--207.
  7. Implicature.Wayne Davis - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  8. Grice's Razor and Epistemic Invariantism.Wayne A. Davis - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Research 38:147-176.
    Grice’s Razor is a methodological principle that many philosophers and linguists have used to help justify pragmatic explanations of linguistic phenomena over semantic explanations. A number of authors in the debate over contextualism argue that an invariant semantics together with Grice’s (1975) conversational principles can account for the contextual variability of knowledge claims. I show here that the defense of Grice’s Razor found in these “Gricean invariantists,” and its use against epistemic contextualism, display all the problems pointed out earlier in (...)
  9. Gricean Communication and Transmission of Thoughts.Friedrich Christoph Doerge & Mark Siebel - 2008 - Erkenntnis 69 (1):55-67.
    Gricean communication is communication between utterers and their audiences, where the utterer means something and the audience understands what is meant. The weak transmission idea is that, whenever such communication takes place, there is something which is transmitted from utterer to audience; the strong transmission idea adds that what is transmitted is nothing else than what is communicated. We try to salvage these ideas from a seemingly forceful attack by Wayne Davis. Davis attaches too much significance to the surface structure (...)
  10. Three Processes in Natural Language Interpretation.Tim Fernando - manuscript
    To address complications involving ambiguity, presupposition and implicature, three processes underlying natural language interpretation are isolated: translation, entailment and attunement. A meta- language integrating these processes is outlined, elaborating on a proof-theoretic approach to presupposition.
  11. Implicature Calculation, Pragmatics or Syntax, or Both?Danny Fox - unknown
    The neo-Gricean account: the source of these scalar implicatures is a reasoning process (undertaken by the hearer), which culminates in an inference about the belief state of the speaker.
  12. On the Characterization of Alternatives.Danny Fox & Roni Katzir - 2011 - Natural Language Semantics 19 (1):87-107.
    We present an argument for revising the theory of alternatives for Scalar Implicatures and for Association with Focus. We argue that in both cases the alternatives are determined in the same way, as a contextual restriction of the focus value of the sentence, which, in turn, is defined in structure-sensitive terms. We provide evidence that contextual restriction is subject to a constraint that prevents it from discriminating between alternatives when they stand in a particular logical relationship with the assertion or (...)
  13. Stating and Insinuating.Elizabeth Fricker - 2012 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 86 (1):61-94.
    An utterer may convey a message to her intended audience by means of an explicit statement; or by a non-conventionally mediated one-off signal from which the audience is able to work out the intended message; or by conversational implicature. I investigate whether the last two are equivalent to explicit testifying, as communicative act and epistemic source. I find that there are important differences between explicit statement and insinuation; only with the first does the utterer assume full responsibility for the truth (...)
  14. Licensing Strong NPIs.Jon R. Gajewski - 2011 - Natural Language Semantics 19 (2):109-148.
    This paper proposes that both weak and strong NPIs in English are sensitive to the downward entailingness of their licensers. It is also proposed, however, that these two types of NPIs pay attention to different aspects of the meaning of their environment. As observed by von Fintel and Chierchia, weak NPIs do not attend to the scalar implicatures of presuppositions of their licensers. Strong NPIs see both the truth-conditional and non-truth-conditional (scalar implications, presuppositions) meaning of their licensers. This theory accounts (...)
  15. Paul Grice, Philosopher and Linguist. [REVIEW]L. Villamil García - 2007 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 26 (2).
  16. Knowledge and Implicature: Modeling Language Understanding as Social Cognition.Noah D. Goodman & Andreas Stuhlmüller - 2013 - Topics in Cognitive Science 5 (1):173-184.
    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. (...)
  17. On Grice on Language.Richard E. Grandy - 1989 - Journal of Philosophy 86 (10):514-525.
  18. [In: Syntax and Semantics, Vol. 3, Speech Acts, Ed. By Peter Cole and Jerry L. Morgan.H. Paul Grice - unknown
    [p. 45] I wish to represent a certain subclass of nonconventional implicatures, which I shall call CONVERSATIONAL implicatures, as being essentially connected with certain general features of discourse; so my next step is to try to say what these features are. The following may provide a first approximation to a general principle. Our talk exchanges do not normally consist of a succession of disconnected remarks, and would not be rational if they did. They are characteristically, to some degree at least, (...)
  19. Logic and Conversation.Herbert Paul Grice - 1967 - In Paul Grice (ed.), Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press. pp. 41-58.
  20. A, The, Another: A Game of Same and Different. [REVIEW]Atle Grønn & Kjell Johan Sæbø - 2012 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 21 (1):75-95.
    Indefinites face competition at two levels: Presupposition and content. The antipresupposition hypothesis predicts that they signal the opposite of familiarity, or uniqueness, namely, novelty, or non-uniqueness. At the level of descriptive content, they are pressured from two sides: definites expressing identity and another phrases expressing difference, and Gricean reasoning predicts that indefinites signal both difference and identity and are infelicitous when definites and another phrases are felicitous. However, occasionally a space opens between the and another, for a to fill. This (...)
  21. Grice's Razor.Allan Hazlett - 2007 - Metaphilosophy 38 (5):669-690.
    Grice’s Razor is a principle of parsimony which states a preference for linguistic explanations in terms of conversational implicature, to explanations in terms of semantic context-dependence. Here I propose a Gricean theory of knowledge attributions, and contend on the basis of Grice’s Razor that it is superior to contextualism about ‘knows’.
  22. Issues in the Investigation of Implicature.Larry Horn - manuscript
    To appear in a volume in honor of Grice edited by Klaus Petrus.
  23. Implicature.Larry Horn - manuscript
    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. (...)
  24. Conventional Wisdom Reconsidered.Laurence R. Horn - 2016 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (2):145-162.
    Lepore and Stone seek to replace the rationality-based Gricean picture of coordination between speaker and hearer with one leaning more strongly on the roles of convention and speaker knowledge while doing away with conversational implicature. Focusing on the phenomena of indirect speech acts, asymmetric conjunction, and scalar inferencing, I argue that the case for abandoning implicature as an analytical tool is not ultimately compelling. I seek further to demonstrate the utility of the classical Gricean distinction between what is said and (...)
  25. Two Types of Implicature: Material and Behavioural.Mark Jary - 2013 - Mind and Language 28 (5):638-660.
    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 (...)
  26. Assertion, Lying, and Falsely Implicating.Jessica Pepp - forthcoming - In Sanford C. Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook ofAssertion. Oxford University Press.
    There is an intuitive and seemingly significant difference between lying and falsely implicating. This difference has received scrutiny both historically and recently, mostly in the context of the following two questions. First, how should lying be defined so as to distinguish it from falsely implicating? Second, is the difference between lying and falsely implicating really significant, and if so, how and why is it significant? Answers to the first question typically invoke assertion, claiming (roughly) that to lie is to assert (...)
  27. The Implicature Theory: A Case Study.Rodrigo Jungmann - 2011 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 14 (3):405-419.
    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 (...)
  28. The Semantics/Pragmatics Interface From an Experimental Perspective: The Case of Scalar Implicature.Napoleon Katsos - 2008 - Synthese 165 (3):385-401.
    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 (...)
  29. Pragmatic Tolerance: Implications for the Acquisition of Informativeness and Implicature.Napoleon Katsos & Dorothy V. M. Bishop - 2011 - Cognition 120 (1):67-81.
  30. On the Characterization of Alternatives.Danny Fox Roni Katzir - unknown
    The computation of both Scalar Implicatures (SI) and Association with Focus (AF) is characterized with reference to sets of alternatives. However, it has generally been assumed that the relevant alternatives are determined in different ways for the two processes. Specifically, it has been assumed that the alternatives for SI – scalar alternatives – are computed by a special procedure specifically designed for implicatures, whereas the alternatives for AF – focus alternatives – are determined by the general theory of association with (...)
  31. Meaning and Implication: Other Thoughts.R. J. Kearney - 1972 - Analysis 33 (2):47 - 50.
  32. Utterer's Meaning Revisited.Andreas Kemmerling - 1986 - In Richard E. Grandy & Richard Warner (eds.), Philosophical Grounds of Rationality: Intentions, Categories, Ends. Oxford University Press. pp. 131--55.
  33. Exhaustivity in Questions with Non-Factives.Nathan Klinedinst - manuscript
    This paper is concerned with the conditions under which a person can be said to have told someone or predicted (the answer to a question like) ‘who came’.
  34. The Implicit Dimension of Meaning: Ways of “Filling In” and “Filling Out” Content.Anna Kollenberg & Alex Burri - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (1):89-109.
    I distinguish between the classical Gricean approach to conversational implicatures, which I call the action-theoretic approach, and the approach to CIs taken in contemporary cognitive science. Once we free ourselves from the AT account, and see implicating as a form of what I call “conversational tailoring”, we can more easily see the many different ways that CIs arise in conversation. I will show that they arise not only on the basis of a speaker’s utterance of complete sentences but also on (...)
  35. Implicitures: Cancelability and Non-Detachability.Kepa Korta - manuscript
    Grice’s so-called ‘theory of conversation’ (Grice 1967a) establishes a basic distinction between two aspects of utterance meaning: what is said and what is implicated. Some authors (Carston (1988), Recanati (1989), Sperber and Wilson (1986)) have criticized this distinction and, particularly, its application to the pragmatic analysis of several linguistic phenomena, giving rise to an interesting debate on the delimitation of the different aspects of utterance meaning. Bach (1994) enters the discussion with a proposal of revision of Grice’s original distinction, including (...)
  36. The Pragmatic Circle.Kepa Korta & John Perry - 2008 - Synthese 165 (3):347 - 357.
    Classical Gricean pragmatics is usually conceived as dealing with far-side pragmatics, aimed at computing implicatures. It involves reasoning about why what was said, was said. Near-side pragmatics, on the other hand, is pragmatics in the service of determining, together with the semantical properties of the words used, what was said. But this raises the specter of ‘the pragmatic circle.’ If Gricean pragmatics seeks explanations for why someone said what they did, how can there be Gricean pragmatics on the near-side? Gricean (...)
  37. Conversational Implicature.Paisley Nathan Livingston - unknown
    The British philosopher Herbert Paul Grice observed that the total significance of an utterance embraces not only “what is said” but what is implied. His term of art for the latter was “implicature,” and he identified conversational implicature as an important type of implicit meaning or signification.
  38. Grice's Intentions.L. B. Lombard & G. C. Stine - 1974 - Philosophical Studies 25 (3):207 - 212.
  39. Professor Grice's Theory of Meaning.Alfred F. MacKay - 1972 - Mind 81 (321):57-66.
  40. A Theory of Individual-Level Predicates Based on Blind Mandatory Scalar Implicatures.Giorgio Magri - 2009 - Natural Language Semantics 17 (3):245-297.
    Predicates such as tall or to know Latin, which intuitively denote permanent properties, are called individual-level predicates. Many peculiar properties of this class of predicates have been noted in the literature. One such property is that we cannot say #John is sometimes tall. Here is a way to account for this property: this sentence sounds odd because it triggers the scalar implicature that the alternative John is always tall is false, which cannot be, given that, if John is sometimes tall, (...)
  41. The Conventional and the Analytic.Manuel Pérez Otero Manuel García‐Carpintero - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):239-274.
  42. Reasoning About Implicature: A Plan-Based Approach.Andrew Schaub Mccafferty - 1987 - Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
    Paul Grice coined the term "implicature" in his 1967 William James Lectures. A speaker implicates a proposition if it is part of what he or she communicates, but not part of what he or she literally says. For example, when you direct a stranger to a gas station, you implicate that it is open. This is communicated, but not literally said. The only viable theory of implicature in the philosophical literature is Grice's own theory, which appeals to a "cooperative principle" (...)
  43. Metalinguistic Comparison in an Alternative Semantics for Imprecision.Marcin Morzycki - 2011 - Natural Language Semantics 19 (1):39-86.
    This paper offers an analysis of metalinguistic comparatives such as more dumb than crazy in which they differ from ordinary comparatives in the scale on which they compare: ordinary comparatives use scales lexically determined by particular adjectives, but metalinguistic ones use a generally-available scale of imprecision or ‘pragmatic slack’. To implement this idea, I propose a novel compositional implementation of the Lasersohnian pragmatic-halos account of imprecision—one that represents clusters of similar meanings as Hamblin alternatives. In the theory that results, existential (...)
  44. Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson, Relevance: Communication and Cognition.F. Murphy - 1997 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 5:144-144.
  45. Upper-Bounded No More: The Exhaustive Interpretation of Non-Strict Comparison. [REVIEW]Rick Nouwen - 2008 - Natural Language Semantics 16 (4):271-295.
    The paper concerns the expression of non-strict comparison, focusing in particular on constructions of the form [no(t) . . .-er than] in modified numerals. The main empirical finding is the observation that negated comparatives contrast with regular comparatives in that the former but not the latter can give rise to (scalar) implicatures. It is shown that such a contrast falls out of theories of exhaustive interpretation that claim alternatives to form dense scales. An important result is that the paper sharpens (...)
  46. Linguistic-Pragmatic Factors in Interpreting Disjunctions.Ira A. Noveck, Gennaro Chierchia, Florelle Chevaux, Raphaelle Guelminger & Emmanuel Sylvestre - 2002 - Thinking and Reasoning 8 (4):297 – 326.
    The connective or can be treated as an inclusive disjunction or else as an exclusive disjunction. Although researchers are aware of this distinction, few have examined the conditions under which each interpretation should be anticipated. Based on linguistic-pragmatic analyses, we assume that interpretations are initially inclusive before either (a) remaining so, or (b) becoming exclusive by way of an implicature ( but not both ). We point to a class of situations that ought to predispose disjunctions to inclusive interpretations and (...)
  47. La regla de la aseveración y las implicaturas conversacionales.Manuel Pérez Otero - 2009 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 24 (1):63-81.
    Williamson defiende la regla del conocimiento, RK, sobre las aseveraciones: debemos aseverar que p sólo si sabemos que p. En este trabajo exploro algunas consecuencias interesantes de RK: (a) en ocasiones, al hacer una aseveración correcta transmitimos (como implicatura) un significado no literal verdadero, que \sin embargo\ no podría ser correctamente aseverado; (b) ese tipo de implicatura se da, entre otros casos, en una cierta subclase de las implicaturas: las implicaturas argumentativas; (c) RK y la noción de implicatura argumentativa permiten (...)
  48. The Conventional and the Analytic.Manuel Pérez Otero - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):239 - 274.
  49. Scalar Implicatures in Language Acquisition: Some Evidence From Modern Greek.Anna Papafragou - unknown
    According to the standard analysis, quantifiers such as , connectives such as , modals such as and a host of other expressions form informational scales (Horn, 1972). In the canonical case, informational scales are defined on the basis of entailment (e.g. p and q asymmetrically entails p or q). Given the Gricean assumption that speakers try to say as much as they truthfully can that is relevant to the conversational exchange, the fact that an informationally weaker term was used in (...)
  50. Aspectuality and Scalar Structure.Anna Papafragou - unknown
    This paper focuses on the semantic and pragmatic properties of certain aspectual predicates (e.g. start) and degree modifiers (e.g. half). As is wellknown, such terms typically give rise to SCALAR IMPLICATURES (SIs). For instance, an utterance such as (1a) or (2a) is often taken to carry the implicature in (1b) and (2b) respectively.
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