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Chapter 3. Free self-forms in discourse-pragmatic functions

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Abstract

This paper contributes to the study of picture NPs, as one of various contexts that encourage the use of unbound <i>self</i>-forms. The paper emphasises the need for a clear terminological distinction between different <i>self</i>-forms, of which standard reflexives are only one type. Based on findings from the <i>British National Corpus</i>, the <i>Northern Ireland Corpus of Transcribed Speech</i>, and the <i>Freiburg Corpus of English Dialects</i>, an extended definition of picture NPs is proposed for cases with and without representational nouns (<i>That&#8217;s (a picture of) myself</i>) which can be attributed to the conversational context. A Pronoun Usage Questionnaire is used to test constraints and explanations proposed in previous studies on <i>self</i>-forms in picture NPs (in particular Cantrall 1974 and Kuno 1987), and to assess their general acceptability among English native speakers. The results presented provide strong evidence against a &#8216;one form-one meaning&#8217; approach, showing that pronoun choice in conversation is frequently influenced by discourse-pragmatic factors, such as viewpoint and contrast.

References

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