gap in the OED

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sun Dec 2 22:41:13 UTC 2001

Do you mean to say 'implicature' is not in the dictionary?

dInIs (implicaturing all over the place)

>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?

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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