The role of cognitive context in the interpretation of riddles

A relevance theory perspective

Juma'a Qadir Hussein, Imran Ho Abdullah @ Ho Yee Beng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper addresses the role of cognitive context in the interpretation of riddles within the framework of Relevance Theory. Relevance Theory, proposed by Sperber and Wilson (1986/1995), implicates assumptions suitable for the interpretation of how cognitive context is created in the act of riddling. It is argued that this theory shows how and why the riddlee resorts to the cognitive context to give appropriate resolution to the riddle. In this regard, the cognitive context proposed by Relevance Theory is more powerful than the co-text or the context of situation in giving appropriate interpretation to the riddle. The riddles under analysis are confined to one type of riddle, the metaphorical riddle, selected from Pepicello and Green's 1984 'The Language of Riddles'. The cognitive context here does not refer to the co-text or the context of situation but to the set of assumptions and beliefs in the mind of the riddlee about the world available to him in the process of riddle interpretation. The context determines the interpretation of an utterance while the lack of contextual information will lead to communication failure or misinterpretation. This relates to the fact that the cognitive context is affected differently by different individuals due to various factors ranging from one's cognitive ability to one's social and cultural experiences. Hence, riddle interpretation, according to Relevance Theory, is an inferential process where cognitive context determines the interpretation of the riddle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalPertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities
Volume24
Issue numberFebruary
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

Fingerprint

interpretation
cognitive ability
Riddles
Relevance Theory
communication
lack
language
experience

Keywords

  • Co-text
  • Cognitive context
  • Optimal relevance
  • Relevance Theory
  • Riddle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

The role of cognitive context in the interpretation of riddles : A relevance theory perspective. / Hussein, Juma'a Qadir; Abdullah @ Ho Yee Beng, Imran Ho.

In: Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Vol. 24, No. February, 01.02.2016, p. 11-20.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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