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date: 15 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews recent research on speakers’ referential choices in discourse. It focuses on the choice to mention a certain referent first on the one hand, and to produce a pronoun or more elaborate noun phrase on the other. Whereas traditional theories have relied mainly on influence of linguistic context to explain these choices, recent psycholinguistic studies have started investigating the effect of non-linguistic factors as well. Results of these studies suggest that the two referential choices (choice of referent and choice of referring expression) are largely driven by different sets of factors, contrary to the claim that both are related to accessibility of mental representations in memory. The chapter concludes that these findings are best explained by assuming referents can be accessible on different levels: a local and a more global discourse level. Referential choices may be influenced by both levels of accessibility, but with different probabilities for different choices.

Keywords: reference, referring expressions, accessibility, referential choices, non-linguistic factors, psycholinguistic studies

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