UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 13 (2001)

Relevance Theory and the saying/implicating distinction



A distinction between saying and implicating has held a central place in pragmatics since Grice, with ‘what is said’ usually equated with the (context-relative) semantic content of an utterance. In relevance theory, a distinction is made between two kinds of communicated assumptions, explicatures and implicatures, with explicatures defined as pragmatic developments of encoded linguistic meaning. It is argued here that, given a context-free semantics for linguistic expression types, together with the explicature/implicature distinction, there is no role for any minimally propositional notion of ‘what is said’.

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