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Referring and accessibility

  • Mira Ariel (a1)

Extract

The analysis of referring expressions can be divided into two branches for our purposes. The first includes theories of definite descriptions and proper names. The key to the riddle of the appropriate use of such expressions, it was thought, is the notion of presupposition: existence and/or uniqueness. Indeed, this was the question that dominated the literature for many years, starting with the early philosophical analyses of Frege (1982), Russell (1919) and Strawson (1956, 1964), and ending with the much later pragmatically oriented linguistic analyses, such as Liberman (1973), Kempson (1975), Prince (1978, 1981b), Gazdar (1979), McCawley (1979), Hawkins (1974, 1984) and even Loftus (1972, 1974, 1975), although this last approach is more psychological. The second branch of research totally neglected the question of presupposition. Non-syntactic/semantic theories of anaphoric expressions, pronouns especially, were psychologically oriented, and hence saw the issue to be accounted for quite differently. In fact, the objective of these theories has been to elucidate processing procedures by examining anaphoric expressions, rather than to make claims about anaphoric expressions as such.

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