This is Zsa Zsa, not Eva, or Magda -- or indeed their father, who had them
chauffeured to acting school and such back in Buda-Pest. (They actually lived
in Buda, in an affluent suburb thereof, if you must specify -- vide Grice, "Be
as informative as you feel like [being].")
McEvoy was referring to Popper, as being one (Popper, not McEvoy) who
"avoided the swamps of meaning-analysis like they were plague-ridden."
-- whereas Grice loved to splash in the shallowest berths of language, if we
must be metaphorical.
Part of Popper's problem is his inability to deal with Grice's central concept
of 'indeterminacy,' as applied to 'conversational implicature.'. While at
Oxford, McEvoy read Grice's "The Causal Theory of Perception". In the fabulous
excursus of that essay (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, meeting at
Cambridge, 1961) Grice develops certain features of 'implicature' (not yet
called thus), including 'indeterminacy'. He expands on 'indeterminacy' in the
second William James lecture on "Logic and Conversation". Basically, an
implicature is indeterminate iff
(I) By uttering x, U means that p1 or p2 or p3 or ... pn
This sort of 'disjunctional indeterminacy' is magical, I find.
And of course, as abused by Zsa Zsa Gabor, it is even _more_ magical.
Indeterminacy is related, conceptually, to irrefutability, or unfalsifiability,
that Popper detested (for some reason -- "or other," as Geary might have it).
"How many husbands have I had? You mean apart from my own?": The compleat
implicatures of Zsa Zsa Gabor
i. I call everyone 'darling' because I can't remember their names.
This impliacture-carrying utterance may seem a bit silly, but the implicature
is that 'darling' is perhaps overused. The use of 'because' implicates that
this might be an answer to an insidious and naïve question by a journalist,
ii. I never hated a man enough to give him diamonds back.
Here the implicature arises from a paradoxical use of 'hate' but Zsa Zsa makes
it, via implicature, sensible! The implicature is quantifiable alla Altham, via
the use of 'enough'.
iii. I don't take gifts from perfect strangers -- but then, nobody is perfect.
This implicature is slightly different, in that it is Chomskyian. The scope of
'perfect' becomes, via a violation of the maxim, "avoid ambiguity", the utterer
of (iii), i.e. Zsa Zsa herself. By algebraic reasoning, if the standard
collocation of 'perfect' applies to 'stranger,' then there is the final
implicature that she does take gifts from EVERYBODY. (Geary says that
explaining Berra's jokes KILLS them, but Zsa Zsa might be different ("than
Berra", or 'from Berra,' as I prefer)
iv. I don't remember anyone's name. How do you think the 'dahling' thing got
This is of course a variation on (i) -- (As with Dorothy Parker, or indeed
Berra, there are apocryphal and non-apocryphal variants, some due to what Zsa
Zsa called her 'ghost writers'. This one raises the deep philosophical Kripkean
question: why do people have personal names -- and are not just called
'dahlings' (which incidentally, is gender-neutral)?
v. I like a mannish man: a man who knows how to talk to and treat a woman --
not just a man with muscles.
The implicature here might be Hungarian in origin. "Mannish man" seems analytic
in English, but perhaps not in Hungarian. Cfr. womanish woman. ("woman" is
etymologically 'wife-man,' so there may be implicatural problems there).
vi. I want a man that's kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a
Like (iii), here the implicature is Chomskyian, and ultimately syntactic in
nature. The utterance violates the cooperative principle and the maxim 'be
orderly', inter alia. "Man," in the object of the first sentence within the
utterance of (vi), has notably broad scope. In the question that follows,
however 'millionaire' comes out, as Grice would say, of the Zsa Zsa blue.
vii. How many husbands have I had? You mean apart from my own?
Here, the implicature trades on the Hungarian 'husband' and 'have'. Gabor
implicates that to have been asked, "How many husbands have you MARRIED?" would
be too prolix (cfr. Grice's conversational maxim, "Avoid prolixity of
expression [sic] -- be brief."). She further implicates that the informal use
of 'have' invites the implicature she exploits in her repartee. By displaying a
faked 'misunderstanding' of the the point of the original question, she is
further implicating that it's none of the questioner's business.
vii. I'm a great housekeeper. I get divorced. I keep the house.
Here Gabor implicates that Hungarian lacks the typical Americanism
"house-keeper", and thus trades on the LITERALNESS of 'keep a house' which is
never lost in Hungarian translation (since it's the mere mereological sum of
'keep' + 'house'). She also trades on the Hungarian vernacular which does not
distinguish between "great" and "big" (but surely, "I'm a big housekeeper"
triggers a different implicature, and Gabor realizes that).
Gabor, Z. Z. The compleat implicatures.
-- My story.
-- Complete Guide to Men
-- How to catch a man, how to keep a man, how to get rid of a man
-- One lifetime is not enough
Grice, "The causal theory of perception", Excursus on 'implication'.
Grice, Logic and conversation, Oxford, 1964
Grice, Logic and Conversation, Harvard, 1967
Koch, Temporal adverbs
Sadock, Testing for conversational implicature