On Readers’ Ability to Identify and Explicitate Political Implicatures in On-line Media Discourse: The Kommersant Telegram Channel Case Study

30 May 2024
Conference Room

On Readers’ Ability to Identify and Explicitate Political Implicatures in On-line Media Discourse: The Kommersant Telegram Channel Case Study

Today’s role of Telegram channels in news dissemination, especially among younger audiences, cannot be underestimated. Telegram has now become “an ally in the struggle against repressions and digital censorship” (Wijermars & Lokot, 2022). However, in authoritarian regimes, posting information on Telegram can be unsafe for its authors. Therefore, opposition channels may prefer to use implicit means of expression and put their ideas “between the lines,” to protect themselves from government’s prosecution. A particular type of thematic implicature, the so-called “political implicature,” that appears in these media texts is defined by Van Dijk (2005: 69) as “implicature that is specifically based on the political context.”

Languages possess enough expressive means suitable for implicit meaning expression. The important thing, however, is that most of them are culture specific, highly dependent on the reader’s explicitation. Mathieu (2012) insists that the meaning is never simply inherent in media texts, but its producers and consumers jointly negotiate it. Message recipients are thus involved in the constant process of “decoding, reference assignment and disambiguation” (Hall & Mazzarella, 2023: 92) undertaken to understand the speaker correctly as “the audience’s understanding of the implicit meaning is integral to their understanding of the text, as well as to their learning from it or being influenced by it” (Sbisa, 2021:177).

The current case study explores the role of Kommersant’s readers in negotiating the functionality and the language repertoire of political implicatures in the Kommersant Telegram channel (Russia), whose authors increasingly use political implicatures as a self-protection mechanism in a restrictive Russian regime. The analysis of Kommersant’s one-month feed demonstrates that the number of spotted implicatures in the Kommersant Telegram channel is highly dependent on the individual characteristics of the reader, such as their age and reading experience. Familiarity with earlier Kommersant’s publications also facilitates the reader’s ability to spot new implicatures in its Telegram channel.


Hall, A., & Mazzarella, D. (2023). Pragmatic inference, levels of meaning and speaker accountability. Journal of Pragmatics, 205, 92-110.

Mathieu, D. (2012). A Contextual Approach to the Mediation of News Discourse. Doctoral thesis, Roskilde University, Denmark.

Sbisa, M. (2021). Presupposition and implicature: Varieties of implicit meaning in explicitation practices. Journal of Pragmatics, 182, 176-188.

Van Dijk, T. A. (2005). War rhetoric of a little ally: Political implicatures and Aznar’s legitimatization of the war in Iraq. Journal of Language and Politics, 4(1), 65-91.

Wijermars, M. & Lokot, T.  (2022). Is Telegram a “harbinger of freedom”? The performance, practices, and perception of platforms as political actors in authoritarian states. Post-Soviet Affairs, 38 (1–2), 125–145.