Sunday, 3 May 2015

Confusing Deixis With Reference

Martin (1992: 109):
Finally, there is a kind of iconicity involved in selecting proximate demonstrative reference to refer to central participants which might be glossed as 'near in importance to the speaker' (cf. the interpretation of proximate as 'strongly associated with' below).  These suggestions need to be checked across a range of languages before firm hypotheses can be developed; but some kind of reinterpretation of cardinals, quantifiers and proximate demonstratives in terms of the importance of a participant when first introduced in text is likely to be critical to be [sic] an interpretation of indefinite reference in many languages.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This confuses the deictic function ('proximate') of demonstratives with their reference function of presenting an element as identifiable.

[2] In the field of linguistics, 'proximate' just means near, as opposed to distal.  The abstract space (e.g. importance to speaker) in which something is classified as proximate or distal is another matter.

[3] To be clear, by 'cardinal' Martin means the determiner one.

[4] To be clear, by 'quantifiers' Martin means the determiners any and some.

[5] This confuses the introduction of a participant with the reference to a referent.

[6] This confuses non-specific deixis ('indefinite') with reference.  The notion that an indefinite article specifies that the identity of one element is recoverable by reference to another is self-contradictory.

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