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What is a relevance implicature?

 

Definition
 

A relevance implicature is a conversational implicature based on an addressee's assumption as to whether a speaker is observing or flouting the conversational maxim of relation or relevance.

 

If the speaker is assumed to be observing the maxim, then the addressee makes a standard implicature. If the speaker is assumed to be flouting the maxim, then the addressee makes a more nonstandard type of implicature.

Examples (English)
 
  • In the following exchange, the implicature that A draws as to the time of day from B’s presumably relevant response is a relevance implicature:

  • A: Can you tell me the time?
  • B: Well, the milkman has come.

  • Source:

    Levinson 1983 107

    In the following exchange, the implicature A draws (that A’s remark was not welcome to B) from B’s response is a relevance implicature:

  • A: Mrs. X is an old bag.
  • B: The weather has been quite delightful this summer, hasn't it?

  • Source:

    Grice 1975 54

  • Generic
      A relevance implicature is a kind of
     
    Sources
     

    Levinson 1983 107

     

    Grice 1975 46, 54


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