Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Scalar Implicature


A scalar implicature is a quantity implicature based on the use of an informationally weak term in an implicational scale.

The use implicates that all similar utterances using an informationally stronger term are not true because, according to the conversational maxim of quantity, a speaker would ordinarily be required to make a stronger, more informative utterance if a true one were available.

  • In the utterance some of the boys went to the party, the word some implicates "not all of the boys went to the party."
  • The words none, some, and all form an implicational scale, in which the use of one form implicates that the use of a stronger form is not possible.