Explicature

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Explicature is a technical term in pragmatics, the branch of linguistics that concerns the meaning given to an utterance by its context. The explicature of a sentence is what is explicitly said, as opposed to the implicature, the information that the speaker conveys implicitly.

The truth value of a sentence is determined using its explicature. For example:

Imagine Jim and Raoul are driving across America from New York City to Seattle, Washington. Raoul is driving, and Jim falls asleep. When Jim wakes up, he asks Raoul, "Where are we?" Raoul replies, "We aren't there yet, but we've passed Chicago."

If Jim and Raoul's car is in fact five minutes outside Seattle and Raoul knows this, he may be accused of lying, since "We aren't there yet, but we've passed Chicago" in that context has the implicature "We are not too far past Chicago and still not near Seattle." Technically, however, Raoul's statement was true, because the explicature—at the time of utterance, Jim and Raoul had passed Chicago and were not yet in Seattle—was true.

H.P. Grice, one of the founders of pragmatics, held that explicature consisted only of the literal meaning of a sentence, while implicature included the intentional meaning. Later linguists have amended this definition, because in order to determine the truth value of a sentence, enough context must be known to be able to disambiguate ambiguous expressions, assign references to variables, interpret indexical expressions, fill in ellipses, and so on. In the example above, the explicature of Raoul's reply must include the context of who "we" refers to (Jim and Raoul) and what "there" means (Seattle), or else it would be impossible to determine his statement's truth value.