, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 83–91 | Cite as

On Presuppositional Implicatures

  • Brian Leahy


Scalar implicatures arise when a speaker uses a logically weak alternative in a context where a logically stronger alternative was available. Presuppositional implicatures, as I call them, arise when a speaker uses a presuppositionally weak alternative when a presuppositionally stronger alternative was available. My goal is to give a detailed, working theory of presuppositional implicatures, and show that they are a special case of scalar implicatures. In doing so, I carefully contrast presuppositional implicatures with antipresuppositions. These two phenomena have been treated as closely related in the literature, but some differences have not been adequately appreciated. Antipresuppositions are observed when a presuppositionally weak alternative is infelicitously used in a context that satisfies the presupposition of a presuppositionally stronger alternative. Presuppositional implicatures arise when a presuppositionally weak alternative is felicitously used in a context that does not satisfy the presupposition of a presuppositionally stronger alternative, but where that stronger presupposition would have been accommodated. Attention to this difference reveals a shortcoming in Schlenker’s (Nat Lang Semant 20:391–429, 2012) theory of presuppositional implicature. This paper both identifies and remedies that shortcoming.


Antipresupposition Presuppositional implicature Philippe Schlenker Presupposition accommodation 



I thank Maribel Romero and the Linguistics community at University of Konstanz for feedback on this project during its development. Filippo Domaneschi and two referees provided useful and supportive feedback. Research for this paper was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Research Group 1614 “What if: On the meaning, relevance, and epistemology of counterfactual claims and thought experiments”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of KonstanzConstanceGermany

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