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Conversational implicatures in normative texts

Lucia Morra

pp. 537-562

This chapter considers the occurrence in statutes and codes of law of conversational implicatures, and their use in judges' interpretation. The question is discussed after a textual analysis of some provisions from the Italian Civil Code and of a subsection of the US Code framed by their interpretations in the two legal communities. The analysis shows that statutes often suggest a disjunction of conversational implicatures from which interpreters choose the one that best suits their interests, namely, in the case of judges, the one that settles the questions at issue. Conversational implicatures in normative texts have a normative stance. They are possible nuances of meaning from which legislators, acting as a collective agency, more or less consciously authorize interpreters to choose, in order to build their interpretation. The peculiar normative status of implicatures in statutes and the possibility of exploiting them in legal interpretation rest on the fact that the legislature and judges run a particular kind of conversation extended in time and mediated by texts which they respectively produce and interpret, following minimal conversational maxims that they know their interlocutors follow as well.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-12616-6_21

Full citation:

Morra, L. (2016)., Conversational implicatures in normative texts, in A. Capone & J. L. Mey (eds.), Interdisciplinary studies in pragmatics, culture and society, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 537-562.

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