[lit-ideas] True alarms

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2011 17:48:33 EST

The other day we were having coffee in a sidewalk cafe, and there was a  
signal of a storm. It came to nothing. "A false alarm," I said to my friend.  
"Gricean analysis needed" I thought to myself. It seems people misuse the  
expression, 'true alarm'. Indeed, they hardly use it, but if they would, they 
 would misuse it.

For Grice, 'mean' can be 'natural', as in:
------ Those black clouds mean rain.
or 'non-natural', as in:
------ Her crocodile tears.
------ Similarly, alarms, I hold, alla Peirce, can be _false_ (the  
well-known ones) or 'true'. The first use of 'sema' (Greek for 'sign') in  
Herodotus relates to that.
I would say that if black clouds MEAN-n (or indicate) rain, YET there is no 
 rain, a true alarm was a mere implicature. 
In Grice's idiolect, 
  ------ Those clouds meant rain, but there was no rain.
is a contradiction. To me, it is what I call a Griceo-contradiction, via  
implicature, not entailment. Cheers. Speranza, Bordighera, etc. 

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