On anaphora and discourse deixis

Mira Ariel mariel at post.tau.ac.il
Sat Jul 12 09:45:18 UTC 2014

Dear Marta,

I agree, and this is certainly how *I counted my referring expressions. The reason is that the immediately preceding mention renders the discourse entity quite accessible, often  more accessible than the speech situation does. For example, I argued that clearly deictic expressions (e.g., Hebrew 'I') are pronounced differently, as related to how accessible the referent is deemed (shorter when highly accessible, longer when less accessible). But you couldn't explain this based on deixis, because the referent is equally accessible in the speech situation. Rather, it's their previous (and recent) mention in the discourse that may raise their accessibility. This shows that what counts is the mental accessibility of the antecedent which is sensitive to linguistic mentions. I'm pretty sure I discuss this issue in: 1998. The linguistic status of the “here and now”. Cognitive Linguistics 9: 3. (pp.189-237). Most likely also in 2001. Accessibility theory: An overview. In Ted Sanders, Joost Schliperoord and Wilbert Spooren eds. Text representation. John Benjamins (Human cognitive processing series). (pp. 29-87).


Mira (Ariel)

-----Original Message-----
From: funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu [mailto:funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu] On Behalf Of MARTA BEGONA CARRETERO LAPEYRE
Sent: Saturday, July 12, 2014 12:24 PM
To: Funknet
Subject: [FUNKNET] On anaphora and discourse deixis

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

More information about the Funknet mailing list