The Cognitive Principle of Relevance and its Application to Anti Iraq War Posters

Freed H. Al-Hindawi; Rufaidah Kamal Abdulmajeed

Adab Al-Kufa, 2018, Volume 1, Issue 30, Pages 9-30

Relevance theory is a psychological model for understanding the cognitive interpretation of language, was developed by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson in 1986 and republished in 1995. They argue that the thing that causes an input to stand out from others is its relevance to the receiver and that every utterance creates in the addressee an expectation of relevance. The underlying assumption of relevance theory is that in any given context, the addressee has to assume that what people say is relevant.
In this paper the problem of the cognitive principle of relevance theory presented by Sperber and Wilson is approached in its application to the posters painted by people who are opposing an American led war against Iraq. The analysis will be conducted to find out how these posters achieve a successful communication and how is that the audience recognizes that the designer of each poster has something to say that matters, something that is relevant and how the addressee understands the content of these posters and how he/she uses their cognition to interpret the posters’ contents and finds them relevant as they are apposing the war against Iraq.