Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Potential Implicature

Definition: 

A potential implicature is an implicature that would arise from any of the components of a givenutterance if that component were uttered in some linguistic or extralinguistic context, whether or not the implicature is an actual implicature of the given utterance.

Examples: 

English

The sentence I think that some went has two potential implicatures:

  • The matrix sentence I think … has the potential clausal implicature ‘I don’t know [that some went]’.
  • The complement clause … some went has the potential scalar implicature ‘Not all went’.
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