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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-U013-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

A term used in philosophy, logic and linguistics (especially pragmatics) to denote the act of meaning or implying something by saying something else. A girl who says ‘I have to study’ in response to ‘Can you go to the movies?’ has implicated (the technical verb for making an implicature) that she cannot go. Implicatures may depend on the conversational context, as in this example, or on conventions, as when a speaker says ‘He was clever but poor’, thereby implying – thanks to the conventional usage of the word ‘but’ – that poverty is unexpected given intelligence. Implicature gained importance through the work of H.P. Grice. Grice proposed that conversational implicatures depend on a general principle of rational cooperation stating that people normally try to further the accepted purpose of the conversation by conveying what is true, informative, relevant and perspicuous. The extent and nature of the dependence, and the precise maxims involved, are matters of controversy. Other issues include whether certain implications are implicatures rather than presuppositions or parts of the senses (literal meanings) of the words used.

Citing this article:
Davis, Wayne A.. Implicature, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-U013-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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