Geoffrey K. Pullum reports on spiffy utterance processing skills at Language Log today, and in doing so prompts this question from your humble host: Is there really any point to the continued debate over whether various pragmatically provided bits of content should count as part of “what is said” (e.g. Recanati) or impliciture (e.g. Bach)?
Both sides agree that there the information conveyed by an utterance includes pragmatically provided information that does not fit into the classical Gricean category of implicature (conversationally or otherwise). Of course, they disagree about some of the details of how this gets done, but their primary quarrel is over whether it should be counted as part of the explicit content of the utterance – i.e. what is said – or should be seen as merely implicit. This looks like a bigger disagreement than it really is, since Bach agrees that speakers commonly count the impliciture of a utterance as relevant to the truth conditions of that utterance, and Recanati allows that there is theoretical use to Bach’s more restricted notion of what is said, though he would want to call it something else.
Its rather getting down to you say potato I say potato now — I wonder if Professors Recanati and Bach would like to bury the philosophical hatchet on this one.