[lit-ideas] How Grice Got Implicated

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  • Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2015 22:05:16 -0400

David Ritchie asks on a different thread:

"Can “implicature” be used as an active verb or does one have to fall back
“implicate”? “I implicature, you implicature, he she or it implicatures”

Well, in "Ways of Words" (which is a typing of his hand-written notes in
1967 for Harvard) Grice does use "implicate" as a verb ('term of art', to use
a word that apparently McEvoy does not favour -- he attacked my use of
'consciousness' as a 'term of art').

"implicatura" is listed in Lewis & Short, "Latin Dictionary" (in fact,
spelled -- spelt -- wrongly by Sidonius as inplicatura) and freely translated
as 'entanglement'.

If I were to compile a Latin Dictionary I would NOT have an entry for
'implicatura', because it's a derivation of 'implico' (which gives vernacular
Italian 'impiegare').

So, the suffix -atura is formative, and anyone who knows Latin knows what
-atura adds to 'implico' (most school boys know that Lewis & Short clumsily
list verbs not by their infinitive form, but by the present tense first

So, what is Grice onto? How did he get implicated in this?

I was happy to learn that before Harvard, Grice had tortured his students
at Oxford with 'implicature' -- and these notes would be dated 1964.

So, Grice is playing with

"I imply"

but wants to refer to cases of "I imply" where what I imply is NOT what
Strawson (his tutee) would call a LOGICAL implication (or entailment, to use
G. E. Moore's use of this legal verb). "Implicate" is ALSO legal ("He got
implicated in a crime").

So Grice suggests that, for cases of "I imply" where what I imply is NOT a
logical implication, we should use "I implicate".

Thus, by answering "In the garden or the kitchen?" to the question "Where
is the cat?" I IMPLICATE that I don't know.

(What I implicate is cancellable -- since of course I CAN know but won't

If "IMPLICATE" was already used in English in the sort of legal 'way' ("He
is implicated in a crime") Grice did not care.

Some linguists (who perhaps who should know better) -- and who perhaps
don't know their little Greek and less Latin -- do use 'implicatural', as an

One may argue that there are verbs in English that do end in -ure, as in
"nurture". So there should not be a rule to FORBID the use of "I
implicature", and since I am curious I'm providing the first Google page for
hits for
"I implicature" (a) and for other persons ("he implicatures", "you
implicature") (b).



(a) NO HITS.

(b) no hits for "you implicature"
no hits for 'he implicatures'

(c) Trust Geary to use "she implicatures" and "we implicature" -- and
finding that FUNNY. (I would).

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