Predication and reference in specificational sentences – functions of English noun phrases

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In this paper, I examine the interpretation and coding of referents in English noun phrases as used in communication. The analysis is framed in terms of the identifiability, specificity and referentiality of the referent. In examining specificational constructions and the “value” and “variable” functions they contain (terms from DeClerck 1988), I show that noun phrases in specificational constructions can be incorporated into a scale which ranges from “pragmatic” to “semantic” predication, and which depends on sentential and discourse context. The relationship between reference and predication is therefore more complex than a binary alternation. Drawing on previous work in Pavey (2004), presenting these findings within a Role and Reference Grammar framework allows for both types of predication to be represented.


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