Discourse Implicature, Quintilian and the Lucidity Principle: Rhetorical Phenomena in Pragmatics

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At a meta-level this article seeks to reduce the perceived gap that exists between classical rhetoric on the one hand and linguistics on the other. The linguistic focus here will be on pragmatics and discourse phenomena. In this article, the main tenets of classical rhetoric will first be set out. Thereafter, some examples of productive crossover work from both sides that has sought to unify rhetoric and pragmatics will be discussed. Next, a number of suggestions will be put forward as to why there has been so little cooperation. These will highlight aspects of scope and audience. Finally, some solutions will be offered as to how those perceived stumbling blocks might be eliminated. In this discussion, there will be a particular focus on the pragmatic notion of implicature from the perspective of Grice, the neo-Griceans and also the Roman rhetorician Quintilian. In the case of the latter, his ideas on the importance of lucidity in productive discourse situations will be explored and recast within a light of modern pragmatic theory.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17/1
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages17
JournalTopics in Linguistics
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2016


  • rhetoric
  • pragmatics
  • implicature
  • Quintilian
  • lucidity


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