Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews aspects of the way we use linguistic expressions (primarily noun phrases, NPs) to talk about things. After reviewing various types of NPs with respect to their possible use in referring (e.g. proper names, demonstratives, pronouns, definite descriptions, indefinite descriptions, generics), we turn to what it is that speakers are referring to, distinguishing real world from hypothetical and discourse referents. Figures of speech such as metonymy are briefly considered. Another important issue concerns choice of NP; for any given referent there are typically many possible expressions that could be used, and much research has concerned how the choices among them are made. Finally we consider the perspective of the addressee, and what factors (such as new and old information) play a role in interpreting intended referents.

Keywords: discourse referents, proper names, demonstratives, pronouns, definite descriptions, indefinite descriptions, generics, new information, old information

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.