How indexicals function in texts: Discourse, text, and one neo-Gricean account of indexical reference

Abstract : My goal in this article is to compare the behavior of a variety of non clause-bound types of indexical expression in English across three texts from different genres, spoken as well as written. A key distinction is the one claimed to exist between the dimensions of text and discourse, and the comparison of the indexical types demonstrates its relevance. In a given text, certain lexically-specific types of indexical bearing an anaphoric interpretation may perform particular strategic, discourse unit-demarcating roles; while others realizing a deictic value may signal a shift in referential perspective, preparing the reader or addressee for a transition to a new discourse unit or sub-unit. Particularly highlighted are the deictic, anadeictic and anaphoric roles of the various indexicals as a function of text genre, utterer's intention and the interlocutive relationships developed throughout the discourse. The article also assesses the neo-Gricean pragmatic account of (non-)coreference in discourse put forward in Levinson's (2000) Presumptive Meanings. The theory of Generalized Conversational Implicature, MIT Press. It argues that, rather than their discourse value being necessarily determined by the possibility of a choice between an attenuated and a prolix indexical type, it is the textual, contextual as well as discourse factors isolated during the earlier comparison which are adequate to describe and account for this.
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Francis Cornish. How indexicals function in texts: Discourse, text, and one neo-Gricean account of indexical reference. Journal of Pragmatics, Elsevier, 2008, 40 (6), pp.997-1018. ⟨hal-00967884⟩

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