Although reference is principally a matter of identification or designation (Frege 1892, Russell 1905, Strawson 1950, Nelson 1992), a referring expression (RE) - here broadly defined as one of the participants in the clause as representation, Halliday 2004 - may also give information about its referent. This is reflected in the grammatical distinction between, on the one hand, proper nouns and pronouns and, on the other, epithets (noun phrases headed by common nouns). With the first two of these, the referent is designated by a pre-established label or by indication of its grammatical person / gender or by its position in the context or co-text; with the last, designation is by representation through description of the referent. An epithet may however be used even when a pronoun would suffice, that is, where the referent is retrievable in the discourse through anaphora (see Reinhart 1983, Cornish 1999) relying in particular on schemata (Anderson 1977), and cognitive frames (Emmott 1989 / 1994; Gosz et al 1995). In such a case, the descriptive detail provided serves not to designate the referent but to give further information about it. Employing REs to inform is of interest because such expressions constitute word-phrase level assertive speech acts (Searle 1975) serving both a communicative and rhetorical function, involving not only coding but also inference (Grice 1975) and relevance (Sperber and Wilson 1986). In this paper, we examine the phenomenon on newspaper articles in English, analyzing how one can identify such cases of selection of RE for informative function and distinguish them from the other principle factors affecting RE selection (e.g. referential efficacy; the principle of economy; and the avoidance of formal repetition - Christiansen 2001).

Designation and description: the informative function of referring expressions

CHRISTIANSEN, Thomas, Wulstan
2009

Abstract

Although reference is principally a matter of identification or designation (Frege 1892, Russell 1905, Strawson 1950, Nelson 1992), a referring expression (RE) - here broadly defined as one of the participants in the clause as representation, Halliday 2004 - may also give information about its referent. This is reflected in the grammatical distinction between, on the one hand, proper nouns and pronouns and, on the other, epithets (noun phrases headed by common nouns). With the first two of these, the referent is designated by a pre-established label or by indication of its grammatical person / gender or by its position in the context or co-text; with the last, designation is by representation through description of the referent. An epithet may however be used even when a pronoun would suffice, that is, where the referent is retrievable in the discourse through anaphora (see Reinhart 1983, Cornish 1999) relying in particular on schemata (Anderson 1977), and cognitive frames (Emmott 1989 / 1994; Gosz et al 1995). In such a case, the descriptive detail provided serves not to designate the referent but to give further information about it. Employing REs to inform is of interest because such expressions constitute word-phrase level assertive speech acts (Searle 1975) serving both a communicative and rhetorical function, involving not only coding but also inference (Grice 1975) and relevance (Sperber and Wilson 1986). In this paper, we examine the phenomenon on newspaper articles in English, analyzing how one can identify such cases of selection of RE for informative function and distinguish them from the other principle factors affecting RE selection (e.g. referential efficacy; the principle of economy; and the avoidance of formal repetition - Christiansen 2001).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11587/342857
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