a problematic anaphor

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Jul 17 13:53:01 UTC 2006

Caroline Leavitt, “Learning Mother Love”, Psychology Today July/
August 2006, p. 44:

It’s a shiny bright apple of a day in San Francisco and the three of
us—me, my husband, Jeff, and our one-year-old son, Max—are at a
concert.  He’s in red corduroy overalls and a striped shirt, his hair
long and golden as the day ahead of us.  The concert’s been going on
for an hour already, and the whole time Max has been content to sit
on his father’s lap, enthralled by the music.

[This is the very beginning of the piece.  It turns out that the
article is about Max and his relationship with his mother, but this
is not yet established by the first sentence, which mentions both
Jeff and Max.  The reference to Max could have been done successfully
by a beginning in medias res, but without mention of Jeff: It's a
shiny bright apple  of a day in San Francisco and we're at a
concert.  He's in red corduroy overalls...]

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