Relevance theory

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Relevance theory

#1  Postby Gelasius » Jun 05, 2010 8:55 pm

Hi all.

Anyone here familiar with relevance theory, as set out by Sperber and Wilson?

Most of what I've found came from the 90s. Is this approach given much consideration by folks in the field these days?
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Re: Relevance theory

#2  Postby Sityl » Jun 05, 2010 9:16 pm

Hi.

No I'm not.

Hard to know.

Sorry if this is irrelevant, but there is no god.

Oh, also, welcome to the forums.
Stephen Colbert wrote:Now, like all great theologies, Bill [O'Reilly]'s can be boiled down to one sentence - 'There must be a god, because I don't know how things work.'


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Re: Relevance theory

#3  Postby katja z » Jun 05, 2010 9:31 pm

Not familiar, but a quick read of the relevant (hah) wikipedia article leaves me wondering what is so special about it, in the sense that the authors seem to formulate some very basic pragmatic principles. From today's perspective (and still going by the article in wikipedia), the theory doesn't seem to say anything revolutionary, but I'm not familiar enough with the history of linguistics to say what it brought at the time it was first proposed.
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Re: Relevance theory

#4  Postby Preno » Jun 07, 2010 2:22 am

Gelasius wrote:Hi all.

Anyone here familiar with relevance theory, as set out by Sperber and Wilson?
Yes (well, I read the book some time ago, at any rate), but unfortunately I can't tell you how popular this approach is nowadays.
katja z wrote:Not familiar, but a quick read of the relevant (hah) wikipedia article leaves me wondering what is so special about it, in the sense that the authors seem to formulate some very basic pragmatic principles. From today's perspective (and still going by the article in wikipedia), the theory doesn't seem to say anything revolutionary, but I'm not familiar enough with the history of linguistics to say what it brought at the time it was first proposed.
This is a better introduction to relevance theory than the wiki article. Imo it's a very elegant and principled framework for understanding communication, unlike Grice's ad hoc maxims.
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Re: Relevance theory

#5  Postby katja z » Jun 07, 2010 11:50 am

Thanks Preno, I'll definitely have a look! :cheers:
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Re: Relevance theory

#6  Postby Gelasius » Jun 07, 2010 5:55 pm

Thanks Preno. I read that a few months ago. Relevance theory seems like a restatement of elementary pragmatics. I bought a book recently which purports to examine some ancient Greek texts in light of it. And I was curious as to how professional linguists see it nowadays.
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Re: Relevance theory

#7  Postby katja z » Jun 07, 2010 8:04 pm

Judging by Google Scholar they have a lot of citations. I've also noticed they have done some work on irony. Now my interest is piqued - I'm definitely going to check on that, so thanks a lot Gelasius for bringing them up!

I haven't yet had the time to read the whole of the article Preno has linked, but I've found this bit quite promising:
Sperber and Wilson wrote:According to relevance theory, utterances raise expectations of relevance not because speakers are expected to obey a Co-operative Principle and maxims or some other specifically communicative convention, but because the search for relevance is a basic feature of human cognition, which communicators may exploit.

This shift from communicative conventions to "a basic feature of human cognition" is an interesting perspective I haven't yet encountered, at least not so explicitly stated. I'll have to find some time to have a closer look at it. Preno, do you happen to know if anyone has taken this theory into the field of translation studies?
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Re: Relevance theory

#8  Postby Preno » Jun 07, 2010 8:45 pm

Tbh I have no idea.
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