A Relevance Theoretical Reading of Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel

Adaoma Igwedibia


There would be no communication, business transactions or propagation of culture and beliefs but for the existence of language. Language is the most important tool for communication. The utterances human beings make are being governed by situation, event or occurrences at a given point in time. Meaning is derived based on the context in which the utterances occur and this is the essence of pragmatics. This paper seeks to carry out an analysis of some extracts in Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel using the relevance theory in pragmatics. Relevance theory as propounded by Sperber and Wilson (1986) claims to provide a logical and cognitive account of relevance in communication. The theory tends to explain communication that takes into account implicit inference. It argues that the hearer or reader will search for meaning in any given communication situation and having found meaning that fits his expectation of relevance meaning, he will stop processing. This is in effect is what this paper attempts to explore using The Lion and the Jewel. Speakers and writers often mean much more than they say or write and expect their hearers or readers to understand them. They will generally assume that some aspects of meanings that are not expressed in words are deducible from the context. This assumption is based on their shared environment, values, social conventions, words or grammatical structures.


Language, Pragmatics, Context, Utterance, Relevance Theory, Communication, Inference

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.5p.144


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