Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

English proforms: an alternative account

  • EVELIEN KEIZER (a1)
Abstract

In most theoretical and descriptive treatments of English proforms it seems to be accepted that proforms replace constituents in underlying structure (i.e. phrases or clauses). The aim of the present article is to challenge this assumption. It will be demonstrated that a great many fully acceptable uses of proforms turn out to be quite problematic for the view of proforms as corresponding either to constituents or to semantic and/or syntactic units in underlying representation; nor, it turns out, do proforms necessarily refer to or denote a single (identifiable, retrievable or inferrable) entity. After a brief summary of the relevant literature, the article presents a detailed examination of the actual function and use of English proforms, focusing on a number of frequently used proforms: (i) the indefinite pronoun one, (ii) the predicative proform do so, (iii) the demonstrative pronouns that and those and (iv) certain uses of the personal pronouns we/us and you. On the basis of attested examples, it is argued that these proforms do not necessarily express a unit at any level of underlying representation. Instead an alternative account of the use of proforms is suggested, using the theory of Functional Discourse Grammar, which, with its four different levels of analysis (representing pragmatic, semantic, morphosyntactic and phonological information), possesses the kind of flexibility needed to deal with English proforms in a consistent and unified manner. Finally, an attempt is made to explain some of the constraints on the flexible system proposed.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Davies, Mark. 2004–. BYU-BNC: The British National Corpus. http://corpus.byu.edu/bnc.
Davies, Mark. 2008−. The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). www.americancorpus.org.
Aarts, Bas & Haegeman, Liliane. 2006. English word classes and phrases. In Aarts, Bas & MacMahon, April (eds.), The handbook of English linguistics, 117–45. Oxford: Blackwell.
Abney, Steven. 1987. The English noun phrase in its sentential aspect. PhD dissertation, MIT.
Acuña-Fariña, Juan Carlos. 1996. The puzzle of apposition: On so-called appositive structures in English. Monografías da Universidade de Santiago de Compostela 190, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.
Acuña-Fariña, Juan Carlos. 2009. Aspects of the grammar of close apposition and the structure of the noun phrase. English Language and Linguistics 13 (3), 453–81.
Ariel, Mira. 1990. Accessing noun phrase antecedents. New York: Routledge.
Broekhuis, Hans & Keizer, M. Evelien. Forthcoming. Modern grammar of Dutch: Nouns and noun phrases, part 1.
Burton-Roberts, Noel. 1975. Nominal apposition. Foundations of Language 13, 391419.
Burton-Roberts, Noel. 1986. Analysing sentences: An introduction to English syntax. London: Longman.
Burton-Roberts, Noel. 1994. Apposition. In Asher, R. E. & Simpson, J. M. Y. (eds.), The encyclopaedia of language and linguistics, vol. 1, 184–7. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Butler, Christopher S. 2003. Structure and function: A guide to three major structural–functional theories. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Cornish, Francis. 1986. Anaphoric relations in English and French: A discourse perspective. London: Croom Helm.
Cornish, Francis. 1999. Anaphora, discourse, and understanding: Evidence from English and French. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Croft, William. 2001. Radical Construction Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Curme, George O. 1931. Syntax. Boston: Heath and Co.
Déchaine, Rose-Marie & Wiltschko, Martina. 2003. On pro-nouns and other ‘pronouns’. In Coene, Martine & D'hulst, Yves (eds.), From NP to DP, vol 1: The syntax and semantics of noun phrases, 7198. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Dik, Simon C. 1978. Functional Grammar. Amsterdam: North Holland.
Dik, Simon C. 1997. The theory of Functional Grammar, vol. 2: Complex and derived constructions. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Evans, Vyvyan & Green, Melanie. 2006. Cognitive linguistics: An introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Finch, Geoffrey. 2005. Key concepts in language and linguistics, 2nd edn.London: Palgrave.
Fortescue, Michael, Harder, Peter & Kristoffersen, Lars (eds.). 1992. Layered structure and reference in a functional perspective. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Francis, W. Nelson. 1958. The structure of American English. New York: Ronald.
Fries, Udo. 1989. The crew have abandoned the ship: Concord with collective nouns revisited. Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik 13, 98104.
Gundel, Jeanette K., Hedberg, Nancy & Zacharski, Ron. 1993. Cognitive status and the form of referring expressions in discourse. Language 69, 274307.
Haugen, Einar. 1953. On resolving the close apposition. American Speech 28, 165–70.
Hengeveld, Kees. 1992. Non-verbal predication: Theory, typology, diachrony. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Hengeveld, Kees. 2008. Prototypical and non-prototypical noun phrases in Functional Discourse Grammar. In Rijkhoff, Jan & García-Velasco, Daniel (eds.), The noun phrase in F(D)G, 4362. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Hengeveld, Kees & Mackenzie, J. Lachlan. 2008. Functional Discourse Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hockett, Charles F. 1955. Attribution and apposition in English. American Speech 30, 99102.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. An introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Huddleston, Rodney & Pullum, Geoffrey K. et al. 2002. The Cambridge grammar of the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Keizer, M. Evelien. 1992a. Reference, predication and (in)definiteness in Functional Grammar: A functional approach to English copular sentences. PhD dissertation, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Keizer, M. Evelien. 1992b. Predicates as referring expressions. In Fortescue et al. (eds.), 127. Reprinted in Anstey, Matthew & Mackenzie, J. Lachlan (eds.). 2005. Crucial readings in Functional Grammar, 109–36. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Keizer, M. Evelien. 2004. Postnominal PP complements and modifiers: A cognitive distinction. English Language and Linguistics 8 (2), 128.
Keizer, M. Evelien. 2005. The discourse function of close appositions. Neophilologus 89, 447–67.
Keizer, M. Evelien. 2007. The English noun phrase: The nature of linguistic categorization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Keizer, M. Evelien. 2010. We teachers, you fools: Pronouns in close appositions. Presented at the International Conference on Functional Discourse Grammar (IC-FDG-2010), Centro Científico e Cultural de Macau, Lisbon.
Keizer, M. Evelien. To appear. English pronouns in Functional Discourse Grammar. Language Sciences (special issue).
Kroon, Caroline. 1995. Discourse particles in Latin. Amsterdam: Gieben.
Langacker, Ronald W. 2002. Concept, image, and symbol: The cognitive basis of grammar, 2nd edn.Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Lee, D. W. 1952. Close apposition: An unresolved problem. American Speech 27, 268–75.
Leech, Geoffrey. 2006. A glossary of English grammar. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Leech, Geoffrey & Svartvik, Jan. 1994. A communicative grammar of English, 2nd edn.London: Longman.
Pearce, Michael. 2007. The Routledge dictionary of English language studies. London: Routledge.
Quirk, Randolph, Greenbaum, Sidney, Leech, Geoffrey & Svartvik, Jan. 1985. A comprehensive grammar of the English language. London: Longman.
Radford, Andrew. 1988. Transformational Grammar: A first course. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Radford, Andrew. 1997. Syntactic theory and the structure of English: A minimalist approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rijkhoff, Jan. 2002. The noun phrase. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Saxena, Anju. 2006. Pronouns. In Brown, Keith (ed.), Encyclopedia of language and linguistics, 2nd edn.131–3. Oxford: Elsevier.
Sopher, H. 1971. Apposition. English Studies 52, 401–12.
Van der Auwera, Johan. 1992. Free relatives. In Fortescue, et al. (eds.), 329–54.
Van Valin, Robert D. 1993. A synopsis of Role and Reference Grammar. In Van Valin, Robert D. (ed.), Advances in Role and Reference Grammar, 1–164. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Van Valin, Robert D. 2001. An introduction to syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Van Valin, Robert D. & LaPolla, Randy J.. 1997. Syntax. structure, meaning and function. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wales, Katie. 1996. Personal pronouns in present-day English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Language & Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1360-6743
  • EISSN: 1469-4379
  • URL: /core/journals/english-language-and-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed