Construing reference in context: Non-specific reference forms in Finnish and French discussion groups

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Both Finnish and French have several personal forms which can be used for non-specific reference. This chapter focuses on the passive in both languages and on certain constructions containing 3rd person forms, namely, the French pronoun <i>on </i>+ 3rd person verb form and the so-called zero person construction in Finnish which contains a 3rd person verb form without an overt subject and is interpreted as conveying non-specific reference. The forms are studied in their contexts of use in Internet discussion groups. We show how the linguistic context contributes to the construal of reference in the social situation between the participants, the on-going Internet discussion, and in the larger sociocultural situation, i.e., Finland and France.


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