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ReferenceInterdisciplinary Perspectives$
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Jeanette Gundel and Nancy Hedberg

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331639

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331639.001.0001

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The Overlapping Distribution of Personal and Demonstrative Pronouns

The Overlapping Distribution of Personal and Demonstrative Pronouns

(p.143) 7 The Overlapping Distribution of Personal and Demonstrative Pronouns

Donna K. Byron

Sarah Brown-Schmidt

Michael K. Tanenhaus

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores pragmatic distinctions between personal pronouns such as ‘it’ and demonstrative pronouns such as ‘that’ in English. These two categories of pronoun are typically employed in contexts that vary based on how attentionally prominent the pronoun's referent is; however, many authors have observed that they are occasionally used by speakers in contexts where the other pronoun would have been predicted. This chapter analyzes such cases using data from two studies, and concludes that the attentional salience is only one of a set of factors that comes into play when a speaker chooses which pronominal form to employ. Conceptual structures used by the addressee in interpretation can override the normal implication of salience signaled by the pronoun's category.

Keywords:   context, pronoun referent, personal pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, salience

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