In the preceding examples, a speaker openly violates a conversational rule. The listeners recognize that a rule is being intentionally broken, and the speaker knows that the listeners recognize the violation. At other times, however, speakers intentionally break conversational rules because they are trying to mislead their listeners. A speaker may violate the first part of Grice’s rule of Quality by uttering something she knows to be false with the intention of producing a false belief in her listeners. That is called lying. No- tice that lying depends on the general acceptance of the Cooperative Princi- ple. Because audiences generally assume that speakers are telling the truth, speakers can sometimes get away with lying.


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Flat-out lying is not the only way (and often not the most effective way) of intentionally misleading people. We can say something literally true that, at the same time, conversationally implies something false. This is some- times called making a false suggestion. If a son tells his parents that he “has had some trouble with the car,” that could be true but deeply misleading if, in fact, he had totaled it. It would be misleading because it would violate the rule of Quantity. In saying only that he has had some trouble with the car, he conversationally implies that nothing very serious happened. He conversa- tionally implies this because, in this context, he is expected to come clean and reveal all that actually happened.


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