gap in the OED

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Dec 2 06:54:47 UTC 2001

attention Jesse (et al.):

As an Argentinian colleague, J. L. Speranza, just alerted me, the OED
(on-line and printed) contains no entry for "implicature", the most
important term in pragmatic theory and one that's been around since
at least 1967 (when H. P. Grice's William James lectures were first
delivered and circulated).  I'm not sure when the first published
cite would be; the term was already pretty old hat when I used it
umpteen times in my 1972 dissertation, but Grice's lectures didn't
appear in print until 1975. The AHD4 entry is pretty solid--

Linguistics  [Why not "Philosophy" too?]
1. The aspect of meaning that a speaker conveys, implies, or suggests
without directly
expressing. Although the utterance "Can you pass the salt?" is
literally a request for
information about one's ability to pass salt, the understood
implicature is a request for
2. The process by which such a meaning is conveyed, implied, or suggested. In
saying "Some dogs are mammals," the speaker conveys by implicature that not all
dogs are mammals.

--but curiously omits any attribution to Grice, the originator of the
term.  (As it happens, the example in #2 comes from my own work--I
seem to recall that the AHD entry is due to our own Steve Kleinedler,
and there was no such entry in AHD3--but I was just using it to
illustrate Grice's concept.)

The AHD4 entry for the verb "implicate"  also contains a sense
corresponding to the base of this noun--'To convey, imply, or suggest
by implicature'--and this Gricean sense is also missing from the OED
entry, although other, older senses of "implicate" are given.

I know these items aren't as tasty as some of Barry's delectabilia,
but they're pretty important in their own way.  Jesse?


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