H. de Hoop
- Introduction: The flexibility of pronoun reference in context
- Journal of Pragmatics
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
Personal pronouns are among the most frequently used elements in language. At first sight, they are tightly connected to the speech act roles of speaker (first person), addressee (second person), and other (third person). However, this one-to-one mapping between person and reference seems too rigid once we look at natural language use. Building on previous work in this direction, this special issue will show that the use and interpretation of pronouns is much more flexible and pragmatically driven than often assumed. Ultimately, the reference of a first person pronoun does not have to include the speaker (nursery we: How are we doing today?), while a second person pronoun can be used without referring to the addressee (as in You saw an opportunity and then you scored, said by a football player). Observations like these suggest that pronominal reference is more flexible than usually thought. In this special issue we wish to address the question what pragmatic principles regulate the flexible use and interpretation of pronouns. Can we identify the contexts in which pronouns get a non-prototypical interpretation, and can we account for cross-linguistic patterns of variation and change? Below we will briefly discuss the seven papers collected for this special issue and describe how they each contribute to answering these questions.
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- Introduction to special section: The flexibility of pronoun reference in context
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