Publication details [#10203]

Sperber, Dan and Deirdre Wilson. 1989. La Pertinence: Communication et Cognition. Paris: Editions de Minuit.
Publication type
Book – monograph
Publication language


(From the preface to English translation, 1995)) In this book, we present a new approach to the study of human communication. This approach is grounded in a general view of human cognition. Human cognitive processes, we argue, are geared to achieving the greatest possible cognitive effect for the smallest possible processing effort. To achieve this, individuals must focus their attention on what seems to them to be the most relevant information available. To (verbally) communicate is to claim an individual's attention: hence to communicate is to imply that the information communicated is relevant. This fundamental idea... that communicated information comes with a guarantee of relevance (is referred to as the) communicative principle of relevance. We argue that this principle of relevance is essential to explaining human communication, and show... how it is enough on its own to account for the interaction of linguistic meaning and contextual factors in utterance interpretation. (Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson)