Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. Candidate of Linguistics, University of Alzahra, Tehran, Iran

2 Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Alzahra, Tehran, Iran.


The notion of implicature was proposed by Grice (1975) who introduced two kinds of implicatures. Implicature is the level of meaning beyond the semantic meaning of the words uttered by the speaker or written by the writer. Neo-Griceans developed this notion more widely and proposed other types. An implicature is generated intentionally by the speaker and may (or may not) be understood by the hearer. Prosodic elements (pitch accent and its changes, pause, intensity, and duration) influence hearers' inferences in utterances having implicatures, and conveying different meanings. Therefore, we propose another class of implicatures namely “prosodic implicature”. It seems that some structures are grammatically underdetermined, i.e. the syntactic structure and lexical meaning are insufficient for determining their meanings, and the role of prosodic elements cannot be disregarded. Putting aside contextual effects, this paper argues in favor of the influence of prosodic elements. In a three-step experiment (a written test, and two listening tests with two different prosodic elements), 8 utterances having conversational or scalar implicatures were presented to 20 examinees  whose first language  was Persian, and all mastered the standard Persian. Findings show that in scalar implicatures, “duration” affects the hearer’s inferring the upper bounds (upper items in the scales) or the lower bounds (lower items in the scales). In conversational implicatures, “changes in pitch range” and “intensity changes” influence the hearer’s inference. Moreover, this paper shows that in absence of prosodic elements, i.e., in writings, some meanings are default for some structures, and readers base their inferences on those defaults. So, it seems that some meanings might be unmarked for some structures which leads to many misunderstandings in interpretation of written utterances as in text messaging like SMS and online chats.


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