Application of Relevance Theory to Translation

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Application of relevance theory to translation

1. A brief introduction of Relevance Theory

1.1 Communication

Upon initial human communication research, communication is achieved by starting to convey a message which is encoded under the linguistic model and by decoding this message on the other side. However, through the signal decoding process, the message given by the speaker can carry various interpretive ideas and thought, which was easily misinterpreted if the speaker’s attitude, surrounding environment or fundamental background knowledge were not applied to the communication process as the complementary ‘decoding’ tools. Moreover, hears’ different lever of cognitive or understanding abilities may vary the interpretation results. Social status also exerts subtle effect on both sides concerning the communication process. In the process of communication, the hearer constructs the immediately given context based on the previous discourse, which is an indispensable part of the next discourse understanding, so his context is constantly changed, expanded and enriched, becoming the base of further interpreting new information. In this sense, context is a variable, not fixed in advance. (LIU Yan-Fang 2006: 66)

In 1986, Sperber and Wilson (1986: 12) advanced Relevance Theory. They actually put the communication process as a cognitive process with strong relation to people’s psychological activities. Wilson once claimed that ‘the most basic assumption of Relevance Theory is that every aspect of communication and cognition is governed by relevance’ (1994: 47). While communication involved two basic models which are characterized by the ‘coding and decoding’ model and the inferential model. Relevance Theory have defined communication process as a ‘ostensive-inferential behavior’ concerning the both parties in terms of their ostensive environment, inferential psychological process and different attitude towards the communication itself. (Mao Donglian 2005: 16)...