Implicatures and Discourse Structure

One characteristic of human communication is the ability to express more than is literally said. Explaining such “unspoken” information is a central concern of pragmatics.

The project is located at the intersection of two explanatory approaches: the theory of rhetorical relations, which takes the macro structure of discourse into account deducing the additional information from the nature of the link between discourse segments, and the theory of conversational implicatures which is focussed on the individual speech act and  conversational maxims. The goal of the project is to merge these approaches, and to develop a formal theory for the interaction between rhetorical structure and conversational implicatures.

Game theoretic pragmatics have successfully provided formally precise explanations of relevance implicatures. Therefore, we plan to develop a question-based theory of discourse structure that will be enriched by game theoretic methods to a holistic discourse interpretation theory, which can represent semantic, rhetorical and conversationally implicated content.

Project description (German)



Funding period


Principal Investigator

Dr. Anton Benz