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I walk into a store and ask the clerk: "Do you have any diet Dr Pepper?" The clerk answers, "We have regular Dr Pepper."

Searching for a description of this type of response, I've found a lot of material on question dodging. But in this case, the respondent doesn't intend to dodge the question or avoid answering it.

I repeat, this isn't question dodging, evasion, or obfuscation like a politician might engage in. In those cases, the politician doesn't want to answer the question, and knows he isn't answering the question.

In this case, the respondent knows the answer to the question, and thinks he is providing it sufficiently. In his mind, his response logically implies an answer to the question posed, but that logic is bad/does not follow.

I find this type of answer extremely annoying. Basically the respondent is implying an answer to my question and making me decode his response, when he could instead just answer my question directly. The problem with this type of response in general is that I would be expected to take future actions/make future decisions as if I have the information I requested, when I really don't.

Descriptions of this type of answer that I've found are "non-answer" and "non-response," but I was just wondering if there was an explicit name for this horrible communication tic.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, curiousdannii, Glorfindel, vickyace, tchrist Mar 30 '17 at 11:48

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    This is what's know technically in linguistics as a Gricean implicature. That's from H.P Grice, the philosopher, whose "Logic of Conversation" suggested general maxims for cooperative speech, whose violations were responsible for a great deal of indirect discourse. – John Lawler Mar 29 '17 at 21:08
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    Its not a non answer, its trying to cajole you toward the closest option rather than tell you frankly they don't have what you want (which is more likely to cause a fit than suggesting you have something close is). – developerwjk Mar 29 '17 at 21:15
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    If the respondent is 'implying an answer to my question and making me decode his response', how do you know they are not deliberately dodging the question / avoiding answering it? – Edwin Ashworth Mar 29 '17 at 21:15
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    @fixer1234 When a politician doesn't want to answer a question, she may evade it by question dodging. I feel like this is a completely different scenario. The respondent thinks he's answering the question sufficiently, but really, he's just tasking me to jump to a conclusion-that there is no diet Dr Pepper in the store-without any explicit confirmation of that fact. – GotYaNumba Mar 29 '17 at 21:21
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    A retail exchange is a special case. Sales people are taught to steer you to something else if they don't have what you want. They aren't trying to be evasive, just trying to save a sale. In a normal conversation, there may be no conscious attempt to not directly answer. They may just be saying something that seems equivalent to an answer in their own mind. I'm not sure it's laziness. It may just be an attempt to provide what seems like supplemental useful information, assuming the missing information is implied by their answer. They may not recognize that the response is ambiguous. – fixer1234 Mar 29 '17 at 21:33

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