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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton May 2, 2011

On lying: intentionality, implicature, and imprecision

  • Jörg Meibauer EMAIL logo
From the journal Intercultural Pragmatics


Although lying is a classical topic in philosophy, and certainly is very important in everyday life, there is a lack of genuine linguistic analyses of lying. In this article, lying is viewed as a speech act of insincere assertion. The liar misrepresents truth in order to deceive. While definitions like this are fairly common, consequences for the semantics/pragmatics interface, and, more importantly, for the ongoing debate about minimalism versus contextualism, never have been worked out in detail. This is what the article aims at, concentrating on three relevant issues, namely intentionality, implicature, and imprecision. It takes a moderate contextualist stand by showing that the possibility of lying is built into the language, thus allowing speakers to manipulate the representation of truth according to certain social goals. A case in point would be lying while saying the truth; in this case, the risk of being caught in the act of lying is reduced.

Published Online: 2011-05-02
Published in Print: 2011-May

© 2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/New York

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