Cooperation and Implicature

Implicature of a Tautology

Consider the following scene: In the cafeteria of a university, one student asks another how she likes the sandwich she just started eating. The addressed student replies:

A sandwich is a sandwich.

Merely looking at the sentence from a logical perspective reveals that it does not have a communicative value since it expresses a tautology (like "new innovation", "free gift"). Yet, when used in conversation we assume that the speaker intends to express more than is actually said. Thus, the student who received the tautologous answer has to assume that her fellow student is being cooperative and intends to communicate something and then needs to work out the additional conveyed meaning, called implicature.

Exercise: Note a number of possible implicatures in this context.

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