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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses how a speaker chooses words to make reference to elements of the world. While some names, especially those at the basic level of a taxonomy, might be privileged, the selection must reflect both the message that the speaker wants to transmit and what the addressee is prepared to understand. Audience design considerations include the age and knowledge base of the addressee and the typicality of the referent with respect to word possibilities. The choice is also constrained by the options retrieved from memory at the moment of the utterance, which are influenced by word frequency and context. Those, in turn, are constrained by the full set available to that individual speaker. This set is a function of both the language history and the speaker’s language learning experiences, including effects of bilingualism on word knowledge.

Keywords: names, word choice, basic level, reference, typicality, audience design, word frequency, context, language history, bilingualism

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