MacMahon, Barbara (2001) Relevance Theory and the use of voice in poetry. Belgian Journal of Linguistics, 15 (1). pp. 11-34. ISSN 07745141

This article explores the extent to which the Relevance Theory concepts of interpretive and echoic use can help to explain the complexities of the use of voice in poetry. Echoic use in Relevance Theory is a sub-type of interpretive use, a use which can allow a speaker to communicate one of many possible attitudes towards a proposition, ranging from endorsement through disapproval to ridicule. My argument is that this model could be extremely powerful in accounting for the differences and relationships between perceived poets’/authors’ views and views presented directly in literary works. This approach goes some way towards integrating the study of poetry into a general account of communication. The article develops these arguments by using the Relevance Theory model in analysing the use of voice in a selection of poems by Dorothy Parker, Robert Browning, John Keats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Fleur Adcock and Tony Harrison, and raises the question of whether all poetry might be considered interpretive.

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