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Grice's theory of implicature

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Melissa Cifuentes C

on 19 March 2015

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Transcript of Grice's theory of implicature

The saying/implicating distinction

According to Grice, what a speaker means by an utterance can be divided into what the speaker "says" and what the speaker thereby "implicates"

1. Grice makes it clear that the notion of saying he has in mind, though related to a colloquial sense of the word, is somewhat technical, referring to it as "a favored notion of ‘saying' that must be further elucidated"

2. Another point of controversy surrounding Grice's notion of saying is the relationship between what a speaker says with an expression and the expression's timeless meaning. Although he attempts to spell out the connection in detail several times.
1.2.Conversational Implicature: To conversationally implicate something in speaking, according to Grice, is to mean something that goes beyond what one says in such a way that it must be inferred from non-linguistic features of a conversational situation together with general principles of communication and cooperation.
The Cooperative principle and the Maxims of Conversation
Cooperative Principle
: "Make your contribution such as it is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged."

Maximum of quantity:
Make your contribution as informative as is required
Do not exceed the quantity of information in your contribution.
4- Maxim of Relation: Relevance

You need to be relevant.
Conversational implicatures are made possible, according to Grice, by the fact that the participants in a conversation always assume each other to behave according to the maxims. So, when a speaker appears to have violated a maxim by saying or making as if to say something that is false, uninformative or too informative, irrelevant, or unclear, the assumption that the speaker is in fact obeying the maxims causes the interpreter to infer a hypothesis about what the speaker really meant
Conventional vs. conversational implicature

1.1.Conventational Implicature: Grice's best-known example of conventional implicature involves the word ‘but', which, he argues, differs in meaning from the word ‘and' only in that we typically conventionally implicate something over and above what we say with the former but not with the latter.

Grice's theory of implicature
Maxim of Quality:
Do not give information that you think is false as a truth
5- Maxim of Manner: Clarity

You need to avoid obscurity of expression.
Avoid ambiguity.
Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity).
Be orderly.
1- Nondetachability: "The implicature is nondetachable insofar as it is not possible to find another way of saying the same thing (or approximately the same thing) which simply lacks the implicature."

2- Cancelability: "...a putative conversational implicature is explicitly cancelable if, to the form of words the utterance of which putatively implicates that p, it is admissible to add but not p, or I do not mean to imply that p, and it is contextually cancelable if one can find situations in which the utterance of the form of words would simply not carry the implicature."
Non-Conventionality: "...conversational implicata are not part of the meaning of the expressions to the employment of which they attach."

Calculability: "The presence of a conversational implicature must be capable of being worked out; for even if it can in fact be intuitively grasped, unless the intuition is replaceable by an argument, the implicature (if present at all) will not count as a conversational implicature; it will be a conventional implicature."
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