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Relevance: Communication & Cognition

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Relevance, first published in 1986, was named as one of the most important and influential books of the decade in the Times Higher Educational Supplement. This revised edition includes a new Preface outlining developments in Relevance Theory since 1986, discussing the more serious criticisms of the theory, and envisaging possible revisions or extensions. The book sets ou Relevance, first published in 1986, was named as one of the most important and influential books of the decade in the Times Higher Educational Supplement. This revised edition includes a new Preface outlining developments in Relevance Theory since 1986, discussing the more serious criticisms of the theory, and envisaging possible revisions or extensions. The book sets out to lay the foundation for a unified theory of cognitive science. The authors argue than human cognition has a goal: we pay attention only to information which seems to us relevant. To communicate is to claim someone's attention, and hence to imply that the information communicated is relevant. Thus, a single property - relevance is seen as the key to human communication and cognition. A second important feature of the book is its approach to the study of reasoning. It elucidates the role of background or contextual information in spontaneous inference, and shows that non-demonstrative inference processes can be fruitfully analysed as a form of suitably constrained guesswork. It directly challenges recent claims that human central thought processes are likely to remain a mystery for some time to come. Thirdly, the authors offer new insight into language and literature, radically revising current view on the nature and goals of verbal comprehension, and in particular on metaphor, irony, style, speech acts, presupposition and implicature.


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Relevance, first published in 1986, was named as one of the most important and influential books of the decade in the Times Higher Educational Supplement. This revised edition includes a new Preface outlining developments in Relevance Theory since 1986, discussing the more serious criticisms of the theory, and envisaging possible revisions or extensions. The book sets ou Relevance, first published in 1986, was named as one of the most important and influential books of the decade in the Times Higher Educational Supplement. This revised edition includes a new Preface outlining developments in Relevance Theory since 1986, discussing the more serious criticisms of the theory, and envisaging possible revisions or extensions. The book sets out to lay the foundation for a unified theory of cognitive science. The authors argue than human cognition has a goal: we pay attention only to information which seems to us relevant. To communicate is to claim someone's attention, and hence to imply that the information communicated is relevant. Thus, a single property - relevance is seen as the key to human communication and cognition. A second important feature of the book is its approach to the study of reasoning. It elucidates the role of background or contextual information in spontaneous inference, and shows that non-demonstrative inference processes can be fruitfully analysed as a form of suitably constrained guesswork. It directly challenges recent claims that human central thought processes are likely to remain a mystery for some time to come. Thirdly, the authors offer new insight into language and literature, radically revising current view on the nature and goals of verbal comprehension, and in particular on metaphor, irony, style, speech acts, presupposition and implicature.

30 review for Relevance: Communication & Cognition

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    The theory presented in this book builds on Grice's theories of meaning-making in context and diverges from them, arguing that ultimately the goal in human cognitive processes is to achieve the greatest possible cognitive effect--in that communication is driven by what is the most relevant in context, for the smallest possible processing effort. While I find in-depth and detailed explication of conversation (of which there is much in this book) to be a tad tedious, I find this angle on studying The theory presented in this book builds on Grice's theories of meaning-making in context and diverges from them, arguing that ultimately the goal in human cognitive processes is to achieve the greatest possible cognitive effect--in that communication is driven by what is the most relevant in context, for the smallest possible processing effort. While I find in-depth and detailed explication of conversation (of which there is much in this book) to be a tad tedious, I find this angle on studying language and cognition to be valuable in context with angles that study language from a perspective that does not take into account the sociological. I think the sociological perspective inevitably has an effect on the negotiation of discourse between people and even on linguistic change, and so find the theory presented in this book to be worthwhile. (I read an old, used copy; 1st edition, not the 2nd edition listed here.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Derek Bridge

    I first read this when it was first published and I was beginning my PhD, 30 years ago. I have moved away from this field so I don't know how well its ideas have stood the test of time. Reading it again, I am struck by how comprehensive and radical is its attack on the then-prevailing (and possibly still-prevailing) ideas about communication and cognition. But I am also struck by its complete absence of any hard scientific evidence: no meaningful citations of psycholinguistic or psychological ex I first read this when it was first published and I was beginning my PhD, 30 years ago. I have moved away from this field so I don't know how well its ideas have stood the test of time. Reading it again, I am struck by how comprehensive and radical is its attack on the then-prevailing (and possibly still-prevailing) ideas about communication and cognition. But I am also struck by its complete absence of any hard scientific evidence: no meaningful citations of psycholinguistic or psychological experiments. Finally, I am struck at how prolix it is (although, admittedly, it does have huge scope), so much so that it is hard to pin down a precise theory here; possibly all sorts of lacunae are hidden by this writing style. Perhaps my criticisms are unfair: the book launches a programme of work with some real insights, rather than summarizes a firmly established theory.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alienne Laval

    Symbols and Signs...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    http://www.5cense.com/18/582.htm http://www.5cense.com/18/582.htm

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Got about half of the pages turned, but about half of those were seen through glazed-over eyes. Interesting stuff, but too technical for me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Daniela

    although hard to follow in places, the book is illuminating as to relevance-focused aspects of cgnition - a simple truth couched in an emblellished argumentative scaffolding!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Wsvdland

  8. 4 out of 5

    Francisco Ureña

  9. 5 out of 5

    Salpi

  10. 5 out of 5

    Edmund Conroy

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lidiana

  12. 5 out of 5

    John

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rémi Barraquand

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ian Pitchford

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Belligh

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Cox

  17. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maged Zakher

  19. 4 out of 5

    Víctor Luna

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lucha

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amira Chenine

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maciek

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anders Andersen

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cesar Jurado

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jana

  27. 4 out of 5

    Billy

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jakob Jørgensen

  29. 4 out of 5

    OTIS

  30. 5 out of 5

    Johan

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