On Three Theories of Implicature: Default Theory, Relevance Theory and Minimalism

in International Review of Pragmatics

Abstract

Grice's distinction between what is said by a sentence and what is implicated by an utterance of it is both extremely familiar and almost universally accepted. However, in recent literature, the precise account he offered of implicature recovery has been questioned and alternative accounts have emerged. In this paper, I examine three such alternative accounts. My main aim is to show that the two most popular accounts in the current literature (the default inference view and the relevance theoretic approach) still face signifi cant problems. I will then conclude by suggesting that an alternative account, emerging from semantic minimalism, is best placed to accommodate Grice's distinction.

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