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Expressing the SelfCultural Diversity and Cognitive Universals$
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Minyao Huang and Kasia M. Jaszczolt

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786658

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786658.001.0001

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Charting the speaker-relatedness of impersonal pronouns

Charting the speaker-relatedness of impersonal pronouns

Contrastive evidence from English, French, and Thai

Chapter:
(p.116) 7 Charting the speaker-relatedness of impersonal pronouns
Source:
Expressing the Self
Author(s):

Minyao Huang

Jiranthara Srioutai

Mélanie Gréaux

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198786658.003.0007

Impersonal pronouns have been claimed to express generic reference that possesses a special connection to the speaker in unembedded contexts. Drawing on cross-linguistic data and new experimental findings, the authors propose a novel typology to capture the range of speaker-related interpretations associated with impersonal pronouns, and put forward a contextualist semantics that explicates the proposed typology. Contrastive evidence from English, French, and Thai will testify that the uses of comparable impersonal forms in these languages allow two dimensions of variation, pertaining to speaker/non-speaker reference and generalization/non-generalization. These variations are further construed as two dimensions of contextual development—at the levels of content and force—of an unspecified, merely generic meaning of the impersonal pronoun.

Keywords:   impersonal pronouns, generic, speaker reference, cross-linguistic semantics, contrastive evidence, contextual variation, force

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