The conversational implicatures
The conversational implicature is the metamessage of the discourse, the covert information. It is what is said through what is not said: the additional meaning that the recipient of a message infers. Its objective is to transmit information in a non-literal way and generate understood and presuppositions (interpretations that transcend what is manifested through words).
How the implicatures work
The important thing for Grice’s theory is not so much the fulfillment of these supposed mandates as the fact, much more interesting, that the interlocutors act as if they had their fulfillment. Without this attitude of the speakers, there would be no implicatures, and perhaps there would be no possible conversation.
Conversational implicatures are assumptions that originate because the speaker says something in a certain context shared by the interlocutors, and in the presumption that he is observing the principle of cooperation.
It is important to keep in mind that conversational maxims are not normative rules, but principles of interpretation of the statements. This means that the interlocutors can respect them, but also transgress them. Not respecting a conversational maxim does not necessarily entail a communicative failure, as we will see below.
When the implicatures occur
The implicatures occur:
- When the speaker obeys the maxims.
- When he seems to rape them but doesn’t violate them.
- When he has to violate one so as not to violate another to which he attaches greater importance.
- When violates a maxim deliberately and openly.
Grice proposed the existence of two modes of implicatures:
Conventional Implicature that is attached to the conventional meaning of words and a;
Conversational implication that does not depend on the usual meaning, being determined by certain basic principles of the communicative act.
Conventional implicature is tied to the usual literal meaning of words. For this concept the examples fit:
(1) Joseph is a worker, yet poor.
(2) (A) What time is it?
(B) It’s 17 hours and 35 minutes.
In example (1) it is conventionally implied that Joseph being a worker should not be poor, but he is. The literal use of the terms gives us an exact idea of what is being said through the preposition however . Similarly, in example (2) the answer that (B) gives the question of (A) conventionally fills the elaborate question. Thus, there is no breaking of meanings, the information is clear and obvious.
In the use of conversational implicatures, there is a rupture between utterances that needs to be filled in by those involved in the communicative act in order to have meaning. Let’s see:
(3) (A) Teacher, looks like I’m going to fail !?
(B) Looks like? Have you seen your notes?
(4) (A) Do you accept an ice cream?
(B) I’m getting fat.
In situations (3) and (4) there is a need for the listener to construct implicatures to maintain the meaning of the said. In (3) the teacher does not answer his student’s question, but asks another question, which leads this student to imply that his grades are so bad that he does not appear to be disapproved, but is already disapproved. Likewise, in situation (4), (A) asks “Do you want ice cream?”, The conventional answer would be yes or no, but the answer runs away from the conventional “I’m getting fat” and leads (A) to imply that (B) is cooperating with the principle of communication and that its answer is actually a negative to the question asked.
Speaking of the principle of cooperation, according to the author, human communication only occurs because the interlocutors cooperate with each other. Grice postulated a principle of communication which he called the Cooperation Principle (CP). The PC therefore relies on four Conversational Maxima:
- Quantity Category
- Related to the amount of information that should be provided in a message.
- Quality Category
- Initially related to the super maximal “Affirm True Things”
- Mode Category
- Linked to the super max “Be Clear”
- Relationship Category
The. Linked to the maxim “Be Relevant”