Revisiting the typology of pragmatic interpretations

Mira Ariel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Pragmatic inferences are essential to understanding speakers' communicative intentions. I here revisit the typology of pragmatic inferences and minimally revise it by incorporating into it additional distinctions. Inspired by Recanati's (1991 [1989]) availability principle, I develop Bach's (1994b) indirect-quote test into a battery of faithful-report tests, distinguishing between inferences on discoursal grounds. The result is that what were initially analyzed as conversational implicatures by Grice are split not only into the relevance-theoretic (Sperber and Wilson 1995 [1986]) explicated and implicated inferences but also into strong implicatures, background assumptions (Searle 1978), and truth-compatible inferences (Ariel 2004). In addition, Grice's (1989) "as if to say" representations, which I define as provisional explicatures, are restricted to what I term two-tier uses (as in ironic and playful uses, but not in "normal" nonliterality cases).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalIntercultural Pragmatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Availability principle
  • Background assumption
  • Explicature
  • Implicature
  • Nonliteral language
  • Privileged interactional interpretation
  • Truth-compatible inference


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