On anaphora and discourse deixis

MARTA BEGONA CARRETERO LAPEYRE mcarrete at filol.ucm.es
Sat Jul 12 09:23:53 UTC 2014

Dear all,

After some years’ experience in lecturing on semantics and pragmatics, and
revising references on deixis, I wonder whether many cases often signalled
as instances of discourse deixis are really anaphoric.

For example, if I say “I love swimming in the sea because it is very
relaxing”, “it” refers to the situation expressed by “swimming in the sea”.
I see no great difference between the function of “it” in this example and
in “I’m tired of this lift because it breaks down every now and then”, in
which “it” is unanimously considered as anaphoric.

And I find little difference between these cases and the function of “this”

“Did you know that Sally finally won the prize? This is great news.”

And the same for pronouns such as “it”, “this” or “that” referring to
previous or forthcoming long stretches of discourse: why shouldn’t these
pronouns be considered as anaphoric or cataphoric, since they stand for
information transmitted elsewhere in discourse?

Similarly, discourse markers such as “however”, “therefore” or “in
addition” could be considered as anaphoric, since they point to the
previous linguistic context.

In sum, I feel tempted to restrict discourse deixis to chapter numbers,
section numbers, page numbers and other similar expressions; these need the
extralinguistic context (in this case, the document to which they belong)
in order to be interpreted.

Many thanks in advance for your responses.

Best wishes,

Marta Carretero

Universidad Complutense, Madrid

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