Entailment (pragmatics)

Entailment (pragmatics)

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In pragmatics
Pragmatics
Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, and linguistics. It studies how the...

 (linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

), entailment is the relationship between two sentences where the truth of one (A) requires the truth of the other (B).

For example, the sentence (A) The president was assassinated. entails (B) The president is dead. Notice also that if (B) is false, then (A) must necessarily be false. To show entailment, we must show that (A) true forces (B) to be true and (B) false forces (A) to be false.

Entailment differs from implicature
Implicature
Implicature is a technical term in the pragmatics subfield of linguistics, coined by H. P. Grice, which refers to what is suggested in an utterance, even though neither expressed nor strictly implied by the utterance...

 (in their definitions for pragmatics), where the truth of one (A) suggests the truth of the other (B), but does not require it. For example, the sentence (A) Mary had a baby and (B) got married implicates that (A) she had a baby before (B) the wedding, but this is cancellable by adding -- not necessarily in that order. Entailments are not cancellable.

Entailment also differs from presupposition
Presupposition
In the branch of linguistics known as pragmatics, a presupposition is an implicit assumption about the world or background belief relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in discourse...

 in that in presupposition, the truth of what one is presupposing is taken for granted. A simple test to differentiate presupposition from entailment is negation. For example, both The king of France is ill and The king of France is not ill presuppose that there is a king of France. However The president was not assassinated no longer entails The president is dead (nor its opposite, as the president could have died in another way). Presupposition remains under negation, but entailment does not.

See also

  • Compound question
    Compound question
    A double-barreled question is an informal fallacy. It is committed when someone asks a question that touches upon more than one issue, yet allows only for one answer...

  • Downward entailing
    Downward entailing
    In linguistic semantics, a downward entailing expression is one that denotes a monotone decreasing function. A downward entailing expression reverses the relation of semantic strength among expressions. An expression like "run fast" is semantically stronger than the expression "run" since "run...

  • Implicature
    Implicature
    Implicature is a technical term in the pragmatics subfield of linguistics, coined by H. P. Grice, which refers to what is suggested in an utterance, even though neither expressed nor strictly implied by the utterance...

  • Loaded question
  • Metaphorical entailment
  • Presupposition
    Presupposition
    In the branch of linguistics known as pragmatics, a presupposition is an implicit assumption about the world or background belief relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in discourse...