Two Types of Implicature: Material and Behavioural



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    1. Department of Media, Culture and Language , University of Roehampton
    • Address for correspondence: Department of Media, Culture and Language, University of Roehampton, Roehampton Lane, London SW15 5PJ, UK.


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  • In writing this article, I have benefited greatly from advice, feedback and encouragement from Nicholas Allott, Noel Burton-Roberts, Robyn Carston, Mikhail Kissine, Agustin Vicente and Deirdre Wilson. Of course, usual disclaimers apply. Research leading to this work has been partially supported by the Spanish Government, research project FFI2011-30074-C02-02.


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.