Message Model of Linguistic Communication and Meanings


Models are representations, or likenesses of certain aspects of complex events, structures, or systems, made by using symbols or objects that, in some ways, resemble the things being modeled. Two basic types of models exist.

1. Replica Model


This type recreates on a smaller scale any object that it is modeled. A standard desk globe of the world is an example of this type.

2. Symbolic Models

These are abstractions that analogize a real event or process in words or other symbols. Communication models are of this second type of model.

Models usually focus on the essential factors of a process. However, no model can represent all of the parts of a process that it seeks to describe.

Otherwise, it would no longer be a model. Instead, it would be the process itself. Therefore, the model builder must pick and choose among elements in a process as he designs his symbolic representation.

Ideally, the elements chosen should represent the essential features of a process. The best model captures the essence of a process. Nevertheless, most models fall short of this goal.

An Inferential Approach (Model) to Communication

If the connection between a speaker’s communicative intention (message) and a sentence is not one of conventional coding of the message into the sentence via its meaning, then what is it?

In other words, the connection between sounds and communicative intention is a result of custom. Hence, whatever meaning a word carries is a result of what the users of those words or expressions consider to be agreed upon.

Linguistic Communication

What is the connection between sounds and communicative intentions that make communication in all its forms possible? The connection is  (Akinajian et al. 1995). Since linguistic communication is successful when the learner, upon hearing an expression, recognizes the speaker’s communicative intention, they say that we propose the following answers to the questions in the preceding paragraph:

READ ALSO:  Communication, and Services Provided by Communication Agencies

Linguistic communication is successful if the hearer/reader recognizes the speaker’s communicative intention.

Linguistic communication works because the speaker and the hearer share a system of inferential strategies leading from the utterances of an expression to the hearer’s recognition of the speaker’s communicative intent. Both the speaker and hearer have to share a system of inferential strategy.

If this is the correct approach to take to communication, then we need to know more about the system of inferential strategies, we want to know how such a system can account for successful communication while avoiding the limitations of the Message Model.

  • Incorporates the notion of communicative intentions.

Message Model of Linguistic Communication

The Message Model of Linguistic Communication applies, if at all, only to a highly idealized form of communication – which hardly ever actually takes place!

However, if one tried to construct a theory of actual, normal communication then the idea that rules or conventions of language connect sounds with a message is replaced by the idea that systems of intended inference and shared beliefs are at work and that therefore the real job of the communicative part of pragmatics is to investigate these systems.

The basic idea is quite simple: Linguistic communication is a kind of cooperative problem-solving. The speaker encounters the problem of making the hearer recognize the speaker’s intentions of communication; the speaker must choose an expression that will facilitate such recognition in the context of utterance.

From the hearer’s point of view, the problem is to successfully recognize the speaker’s communicative intent based on the words the speaker has chosen and the context of the utterance.

Thus, if the listener or reader infers correctly, then communication is considered successful. If not, it is considered to be a failure.


The presumptions allow us to presume certain helpful things about potential hearers (or speakers), and the inference strategies provide communicants with short, effective patterns of inference from what someone utters to what a person might be trying to communicate.

READ ALSO:  Effective and Non-Verbal Communication in Organizations

Taken together, the presumptions and strategies provide the basis for an account of successful linguistic communication.

  1. Linguistic Presumptions (LP): Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the hearer/reader is presumed capable of determining the meaning and the referents of the expression in the context of utterance. The meaning is particular in particular linguistic contexts. For example:
  • Emeka is a pig (dirty)
  • He barracks a lot. (shouts)
  • I consider Sandra wet/green. (inexperienced)
  1. Communicative Presumptions (CP): Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the speaker is assumed to be speaking with some identifiable communicative intent. The meaning of the words or the expressions lies in the mind of the speaker. The speaker may utter an expression to praise or condemn or place a negative comment on someone. For example:
  • He is an angel. (to praise someone)
  • He is a devil. ( to condemn someone)
  1. Presumptions of Literality (PL): Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the speaker is often assumed to be speaking literally. For example:
  • Ade is morally good.
  • Lion is a dangerous animal.
  1. Conversational Presumptions (ConPs)
  • Relevance: The speaker’s remarks are relevant to the conversational situation or linguistic context.
  • Sincerity: The speaker tends to be sincere.
  • Truthfulness: The speaker is attempting to say something true.
  • Quantity: The speaker contributes the appropriate amount of information He or she should know when to start and when to stop.
  • Quality: The speaker has adequate evidence of what he or she says. He or she must be qualitative. This is the most common form of communication and it is normally regulated by the following presumptions: variables that guide the conversation.


If a speaker and a hearer share the above presumptions on a given occasion, then the problem of successful communication is easier to solve, since the hearer already has a fairly specific set of conversational expectations.

Hearers expect speakers to either mean just what they say (to speak literally and directly), to mean what they say (to speak nonliterally), or to mean more than they say (to speak indirectly).

READ ALSO:  Top 10 Roles of Nigerian Languages in Communication

We will propose that to accomplish this, the speaker and the hearer share a system of inference strategies, each of which handles one of the inadequacies in the Message Model.

Thus, there will be strategies not only for direct and literal communication but also for indirect and nonliteral communication.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like