This and that: a procedural analysis

Scott, Kate (2013) This and that: a procedural analysis. Lingua, 131, pp. 49-65. ISSN (print) 0024-3841


In this paper I present a reanalysis of the English demonstrative determiners this and that. I assume a relevance-theoretic (Sperber and Wilson, 1986/95) approach to utterance interpretation in general and to reference resolution in particular, and argue that demonstratives encode procedural rather than conceptual meaning. In some cases this procedural meaning contributes to reference resolution directly and so affects the propositional content of an utterance. In other cases, however, the procedural information encoded by the determiner contributes to what is implicitly communicated by an utterance. This aspect of their use and interpretation has been largely overlooked by previous analyses, and taking it into consideration allows us to develop a unified account of the various and disparate roles they play.

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