Relevance Theory

Francisco Yus

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199544004
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Relevance Theory


Relevance theory, a cognitive pragmatics theory of human communication, was developed in the mid-1980s by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson in their book, Relevance: Communication and Cognition, but their earlier publications also dealt with this theory, specifically comparing it to Grice's cooperative principle. Since then, it has become a highly influential theory in today's pragmatics and has been applied to many types of discourse and research areas within pragmatics. This chapter discusses the following: cognition, communication, Grice and the role of intention, coding/inferring, mutuality, the semantics/pragmatics distinction, relevance as a cost–benefit procedure, the explicit/implicit distinction in utterance interpretation, relevance and grammar, and social aspects of communication.

Keywords: pragmatics; human communication; cognition; Grice; intention; semantics; relevance

Article.  9087 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Pragmatics

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