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Cooperative Principle: The Concept of Implicature

implicature illustrationThe concept of implicature was first introduced by Grice (1975) as the answer to the meaning concern which is unable to be covered by the ordinary semantics. It is insufficient to use semantics to uncover the meaning of utterances. The inappropriateness of understanding of meaning of utterances much influences the achievement of the communication purpose. The purpose of communication is in order the massage the speaker wants to convey is accepted appropriately by the hearer. To understand precisely what is meant by the speaker in uttering the utterances in a conversation, it is very important to understand the concept of implicature.

In conversation, the utterances produced by either the speaker or hearer has explicit and implicit meaning. Explicit meaning can be understood both by predicting the semantic meaning of the words within the conversation and by understanding the syntactic structure of the language used in the conversation. In the other hand, to understand the implicit meaning in a conversation, the rules of semantics and syntactic of the language is insufficient. Therefore, the concept of implicature was introduced. According to Brown and Yule (1983) implicature is used to calculate what is suggested and meant by the speaker as a different thing from what he actually said explicitly.

Furthermore, Grice (1975) states that there are two kinds of implicature, those are: conventional implicature and conversational implicature. The difference between them is that the former depends on something other than what is truth-conditional in the conversational use, or meaning, of particular form of expression, whereas the latter derives from a set of more general principles which regulate the proper conduct of conversation.
In order to have complete understanding about the difference between conventional and conversational implicature, pay attention to the following are examples:

(i) Mary got pregnant and John was pleased
(ii) Mary got pregnant but John was pleased.

The difference between the two utterances above is in the conjunction ‘and’ and ‘but’. In (i), the conjunction used is ‘and’, thus it means that the Mary’s pregnancy makes John happy or pleased. In the other hand, in (ii), the conjunction used is ‘but ‘, which shows contradiction, thus, it can mean that Mary’s pregnancy makes John unhappy or not pleased. By understanding the different meaning between conjunction ‘and’ and ‘but’ well, therefore, the meaning of the utterances in (i) and (ii) are clearly understood since the meaning of them is exactly the same with the meaning of structure of the utterances. The above case is called conventional implicature, it is resulted from the understanding of an utterance based on the structures form of the utterance.

Conversational implicature, on the other hand, has more various meanings since understanding the meaning of the utterance much depend on the context in which the utterance occurs. The conversational implicature arises as a result of the cooperative principle violence. A conversational implicature is, therefore, something which is implied in conversation, that is, something which is left implicit in actual language use. The example of conversational implicature as follows:

A: Has John arrived?
B: There is a red car in the garage.

B’s answer for A’s question has an implicature that John usually drives a red car; B has seen that there is a red car, which John usually drives, in the garage. Therefore, B concludes that John has arrived.

See also:
Grice's cooperative principle 
Cooperative Principle: Implicature
Cooperative Principle: Flouting Maxims
The Hedging of Maxims 
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  1. Think you need to re-read and re-write the first paragraph...

  2. I use four references as the back up of this article, Levinson, Grundy, Renkema, n Yule. What's wrong with the first paragraph? please tell me...If it is due to the statement of "inability of ordinary semantics to uncover meaning", we all agree about that, ordinary Semantic only deals with explicit meaning not implicit.

  3. Thank you so much it was indeed helpful to me


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