relevance theory

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(linguistics) A theory of pragmatics based on the principle that it is a necessary condition for communication that all utterances are presumed to relate to contextual assumptions (see also context of situation). Relevance theory was developed by the linguists Dan Sperber (b.1942) and Deirdre Wilson in the 1980s as an inferential model based on inferring a preferred meaning, which they argue is an alternative to ‘the code model’ based on decoding a shared code. See also inference; compare cognitive film theory.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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