COMMUNICATIVE RELEVANCE AND MANIPULATION OF COGNITIVE ENVIRONMENT IN PRESIDENT TRUMP’S BLAME OF CHINA ON COVID-19

Published: September, 2020

Author(s):

Salisu Muhammad Raj & Adamu Usman

About Author(s):

Department of English, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nasarawa State –

Department of Languages, Nigerian Army University Biu, Borno State – Nigeria

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Abstract

This research looks at two aspects of Relevance Theory to investigate the discourse of the novel COVID -19 that has put the whole world on a standstill. The study examines a corpus obtained from series of the press conferences President Donald Trump of the United States conveyed in relation to the pandemic of COVID-19. The specific corpus was the conversation of the conference he had on the 19th of March, 2020. It was so selected because of the choice of words of the interlocutors which the researchers found suitable for analyzing the linguistic/pragmatic aspects chosen for this study. The research, thus, chose some aspects of Relevance Theory, namely; Informative Intention and Communicative Intention. These models are found suitable for analyzing the data because they communicate the speaker’s intention and the relevance of such intentions in the audience aimed at bringing out communicative relevance in the conversational situation. The analysis was carried out using a descriptive approach, exploring pragmatic factors that expose how the speaker manipulates the cognitive environment to achieve communicative relevance. The result of the findings, however, shows that, in exerting his informative intention, the speaker seemed to rely on the position of authority he enjoys which, instead of making his information explicit by providing enough evidence for his claims, in relation to the assumptions he shares with the audience, his communicative behavior portrayed an imposition of his thinking/authority in the audience. But because they did not share the same cognitive environment with him, the addressees could not recognize his intention as objective which will bring about communicative relevance. They seemed to have different perceptions; that his intention underbellies more serious diplomatic issues than the pandemic he will want the world to believe. This betrayed the speaker’s informative intention which failed to have the desired cognitive effects he would have loved to market to the whole world.

Key Words: Relevance Theory, Communicative Relevance, Informative Intention, Cognitive Environment, Covid-19 Discourse.