What Are the Implications?


I’m going to give you some sentences.  You tell me what they imply.

Barack Obama will win a second term as U.S. President.

I have cancer.

I’m a Vegan.

4 out of 5 dentists would recommend sugarless gum to patients who chew gum.

Osama bin Laden has been killed.

Osama bin Laden has been murdered.

The U.S. murdered Osama bin Laden.

The U.S. killed Osama bin Laden.

The Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden.

Smoking causes cancer.

Smoking causes coughing.

These are just a random smattering of statements that came to mind.  Now the question for you is, What did they imply to you?

Write some of the implications you experienced in the comment box below.  Then read on …


If you can read English, in all likelihood a number of implications came to mind.  Some of those implications may have been about the events referred to.  Other implications may have been about the speaker of the statements.

The point is, language implies things.

Now compare the implications you experienced with the implications another person experienced.  Or better yet, compare your implications with what the speaker of these statements tried to imply.

What implications you have to language may differ from what another person has, and those implications may different from what the speaker intended.

How does this overlap with general semantics?  The field of general semantics is about adopting modern scientific thinking–and the implications of such an adoption.  There are a number of implications in taking on this “non-aristotelian” mindset (as it’s called in general semantics).  One is that pseudoscientific language people use in their personal and professional lives should be revised to more scientific language.  With the revision of that language comes different implications.  That is, what comes to others’ minds when you shift to scientific language is different.

While you might not be able to completely control the implications of your speech, you should be able to influence the resulting implications.  For example, if you say “I have a cat” when you actually have a dog, that statement is not going to imply a dog.  But if you revise to the more scientific “I have a dog” when you actually have a dog, that statement is going to imply a dog.

For what it’s worth, take a look over others’ implications in the comment box.

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