Eric Swanson will present a paper titled "'Black Lives Matter,' 'White People Are Anxious,' and Omissive Implicature" at Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS) on October 19. The paper extends and applies his work on “Omissive Implicature,” recently published in Philosophical Topics.

The ZAS is a university-independent research centre located in the federal state of Berlin. Its objective is the investigation of natural language and its manifestation in individual languages. The central research program Embedding, linkage and constituent boundaries in speech, grammar and discourse is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). This research program is supplemented by further projects from various funding institutions.


In some contexts, not saying S generates a conversational implicature: that the speaker didn’t have sufficient reason, all things considered, to say S. I call this an omissive implicature. Standard ways of thinking about conversational implicature make the importance and even the existence of omissive implicatures somewhat surprising. But I argue that there is no principled reason to deny that there are such implicatures, and that they help explain a range of important phenomena. This paper focuses on the roles omissive implicatures play in Quantity implicatures—in particular, in solving the symmetry problem for scalar implicatures—and on the political and social importance of omissions where apologies, objections, or other communicative acts are expected or warranted.