The Standoff - What is unsaid? A pragmatic analysis of the conditional marker 'if'

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 62 - Review of books or of software (or similar publications/items)peer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-317
Journal / PublicationDiscourse and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


News leaves many things unsaid; as in diplomatic discourse or political discourse, frequent use is made of 'implicatures' (Grice, 1975), in order to suggest information not explicitly expressed in the text. These inferences are usually based on particular beliefs, opinions and knowledge of some concrete situation. This article attempts to explore the stances, intentions and ideologies of the United States and China that underlie news stories of the spy-plane event that occurred in April 2001. For this, 94 news stories from a US online medium ( and 15 from a Chinese online medium ( during the 12-day period between the air collision and the return of the 24 US crew members (1-12 April 2001) were selected and analyzed. By interpreting utterances containing the if-clause + the situational context, the implicature of 'uncertainty' is revealed through one of the key pragmatic implicatures that is linked to the conditional marker 'if'.

Research Area(s)

  • Conditional markers, Implicature, News, News analysis, Political discourse, Pragmatic, The spy-plane event, The Standoff, The United States and China