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Reference without anaphora: On agency through grammar

Clift, Rebecca and Raymond, Chase and Heritage, John (2021) 'Reference without anaphora: On agency through grammar.' Linguistics. ISSN 0024-3949

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Abstract

In this article, we investigate a puzzle for standard accounts of reference in natural language processing, psycholinguistics and pragmatics: occasions where, following an initial reference (e.g., the ice), a subsequent reference is achieved using the same noun phrase (i.e., the ice), as opposed to an anaphoric form (i.e., it). We argue that such non-anaphoric reference can be understood as motivated by a central principle: the expression of agency in interaction. In developing this claim, we draw upon research in what may initially appear a wholly unconnected domain: the marking of epistemic and deontic stance, standardly investigated in linguistics as turn-level grammatical phenomena. Examination of naturally-occurring talk reveals that to analyze such stances solely though the lens of turn-level resources (e.g., modals) is to address only partially the means by which participants make epistemic and deontic claims in everyday discourse. Speakers’ use of referential expressions illustrates a normative dimension of grammar that incorporates both form and position, thereby affording speakers the ability to actively depart from this form-position norm through the use of a repeated NP, a grammatical practice that we show is associated with the expression of epistemic and deontic primacy. It is argued that interactants can thus be seen to be agentively mobilizing the resources of grammar to accommodate the inescapable temporality of interaction.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: grammar, pragmatics, reference, anaphora, topic, noun phrases, social interaction, discourse
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2020 08:35
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 14:00
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28710

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