Conversational relevance

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Among the maxims that govern conversation and which can be exploited in order to generate 'implicatures', H.P. Grice includes the maxim 'Be relevant' (R). The present paper is an attempt to clarify the way in which maxim R operates. Two broad types of relevance are distinguished, a 'pragmatic' and a 'semantic' one, as well as a number of subtypes. It is argued that the generation of implicatures via R relies on the rather precise identification of the types of relevance allegedly missing in a conversational exchange. An abductive rather than deductive model for the derivation of implicatures via R is sketched, based upon a presumed hierarchical order of the various types of relevance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-327
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1977


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