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Some Basic Consideration Of Discourse Reference

1865 words - 7 pages

Some Basic Considerations of Discourse Reference By Wu Hailan 98013 We know that the discourse analyst necessarily takes a pragmatic approach to the study of language in use. They have to take account of the context in which a piece of discourse occurs. Because the analyst is investigating the use of language in context by a speaker/writer, he is more concerned with the relationship between the speaker and the utterance, on the particular occasion of use, than with the potential relationship of one sentence to another, regardless of their use. They are always describing what speakers and hearers are doing, and not the relationship which exists between one sentence or proposition and another. In this paper, I will do some basic researches about one aspect of discourse analysis----- discourse reference, and what I mention here will prove how important it is to have a good command of it. It can help us to improve the skills of reading and writing alike.The traditional semantic view of reference is one in which the relationship of reference is taken to hold between expressions in a text and entities in the world, and that of co-reference between expressions in different parts of a text. In the traditional approach, the term ¡®reference¡¯ is used, together with ¡®sense¡¯, to discuss lexical meaning. The meaning of a lexical item, such as chicken, is partially determined by its sense, that is, the component properties of ¡®animate¡¯, ¡®feathered¡¯, etc., and also determined by its reference, that is , the set of objects in the world to which the expression can be correctly applied. Lyons provides a detailed account of the background and issues involved in this distinction and suggests that the term ¡®reference¡¯ is better replaced by the term ¡®denotation¡¯ in considerations of lexical meaning. We shall follow his practice and say that, in discussions of lexical semantics, it may prove useful to claim that a lexical item has sense and denotation. This distinction is also generally covered by the terms ¡®intension¡¯ and ¡®extension¡¯, more commonly found, in formal semantics. The term reference can then be taken out of discussions of lexical meaning and reserved for that function whereby speakers (writers) indicate, via the use of a linguistic expression, the entities they are talking ( writing) about.It is often considered important in formal semantics that the expression used to refer to an entity must, in its description, be true of the entity. However, ¡®correct¡¯ reference in this sense is not normally the criterion by which language-users operate when they refer to individual in discourse. In fact, it need not even be the case that the speaker believes the description to be true, but rather that he believes that, by using this expression, he will enable his...

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