People Innovation Excellence

Investigation of Scalar Implicatures of Binus University Students_Part 4

By Dr. Clara Herlina

The total group result as presented in table 2 above may hide important individual differences, especially in this area of meaning computation where individuals may take different approaches to felicity. That is why individual accuracy on the infelicitous some sentences was calculated with a 75% cut-off point, or six out of eight items. If a participant chose pragmatic answers 75% and above, she was classified as a predominantly “pragmatic” individual; if a participant chose 25% and less pragmatic answers on the Infelicitous some sentences, she was classified as a “logical” individual. The tally is given in Table 3.

The table shows that generally, Binus students are ‘pragmatic’ individuals. Interestingly, there are some differences on the level of ‘pragmaticity’ among different groups. Students with GPA less than 3 are more logical than students with GPA more than 3, meaning that they are more ‘pragmatic’. This can be explained that ‘smarter’ students usually have ‘more imagination’ than weaker students. For example when I asked one of them, why do you agree with some fish are made of leaves? This student explained that it could be a work of art in which there was a picture of a fish made of leaves (collages). Furthermore, this table also reveals that male students are more logical than female students. This finding confirms the idea that male is more rational than female. But this result may also due to the fact that most male students belong to the group of GPA <3, so their overall result will be lower than female students.

However, these differences are not too high. A statistical computation using SPSS 17 is done to find out the significance of the relationship between the ‘infelicitous some’ response with GPA and gender. The following table shows the result.

The table shows a very low positive correlation between ‘infelicitous some answer’ with the GPA (0.159) and Gender (0.255). This means that both variables (GPA and Gender) are not significant enough in determining whether students are pragmatic or logical. Based on the survey above, most students are pragmatic.


Investigation on scalar implicature has a purpose of determining whether an individual is more pragmatic or more logical. This can be done by giving a statement such as Some cats have ears. A pragmatic individual will answer ‘agree’ because he will compute that ‘some’ means ‘not all’, then it will be interpreted as ‘not all cats have ears’, which is pragmatically infelicitous. On the other hand, a logical individual will answer ‘disagree’ because he will compute that ‘some’ is part of ‘all’. Therefore this sentence can be interpreted as if all cats have ears, then some cats also have ears.

In the survey to forty-two Binus University students of English Department, the following results are obtained: Most of the students are pragmatic individuals. The total percentages based on GPA shows that 88% of the students are pragmatic and only 12 % are logical. Similarly, the results by gender show that 85.7 % are pragmatic and 14.3% are logical. These results show that most students, irrespective of their GPA or gender tend to be more pragmatic rather than logical; or in other words, they tend to draw an implicit meaning beyond the explicit linguistic meaning of an utterance. However, in further investigation regarding their GPA and gender, generally ‘smarter’ students (with GPA>3) and female students are more pragmatic than their counterparts. This can be explained by the fact that ‘smarter’ students and female students are more ‘imaginative’ than their fellow students.

As teachers, finding the students’ pragmatic and logical ability is useful, especially in determining the teaching materials and the method for presenting materials. Different students’ ability needs different approach. Language is not static, yet teaching as well as learning a language need a balanced portion of pragmatic ability and logical ability.



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Clara Herlina Karjo

English Department, Faculty of  Humanities, Bina Nusantara University

Kemanggisan Ilir III No.45, Palmerah, Jakarta 11480, Indonesia


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