Anaphoric Reference to Propositions
Snider, Todd Nathaniel
Just as pronouns like she and he make anaphoric reference to individuals, English words like that and so can be used to refer anaphorically to a proposition introduced in a discourse: That’s true; She told me so. Much has been written about individual anaphora, but less attention has been paid to propositional anaphora. This dissertation is a com- prehensive examination of propositional anaphora, which I argue behaves like anaphora in other domains, is conditioned by semantic factors, and is not conditioned by purely syntactic factors nor by the at-issue status of a proposition. I begin by introducing the concepts of anaphora and propositions, and then I discuss the various words of English which can have this function: this, that, it, which, so, as, and the null complement anaphor. I then compare anaphora to propositions with anaphora in other domains, including individual, temporal, and modal anaphora. I show that the same features which are characteristic of these other domains are exhibited by proposi- tional anaphora as well. I then present data on a wide variety of syntactic constructions—including sub- clausal, monoclausal, multiclausal, and multisentential constructions—noting which li- cense anaphoric reference to propositions. On the basis of this expanded empirical do- main, I argue that anaphoric reference to a proposition is licensed not by any syntactic category or movement but rather by the operators which take propositions as arguments. With this generalization in hand, I turn to how such facts can be formally modeled: I review existing systems which track anaphora and/or which make use of propositional variables, and then introduce a new formalism which incorporates insights from these existing systems. Finally, I turn to the interaction between a proposition’s availability for anaphoric ref- erence and its discourse status (in particular, its at-issue status). Contrary to the prevail- ing assumption in the literature, I argue that there is no tight linking between these two properties, and that one of the tests frequently used to diagnose at-issueness in fact di- agnoses only anaphoric availability. I argue that propositional anaphora and at-issueness are distinct, showing that at-issueness is neither necessary nor sufficient to determine a proposition’s anaphoric potential.
anaphora; at-issueness; discourse referents; propositional anaphora; propositions; Linguistics
Whitman, John; Starr, William B.; Murray, Sarah E.
Ph. D., Linguistics
Doctor of Philosophy
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
dissertation or thesis
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