Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics: Volume 6
  • ISSN 1572-0268
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0276
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This corpus-based study examines the resolution of coreference between formally singular epicene antecedents and their anaphoric pronouns within the framework of Cognitive Grammar. These antecedents are expected to most directly evoke a singular conceptual entity, and, consequently, coreference is assumed to be most effectively established by using a singular pronoun, whereas the plural anaphor would have to be accounted for by metonymic antecedence. Yet, the high frequency of they found in the study suggests that epicene generics are predominantly conceptualized as referring to plural entities, despite their morphological singularity. This conceptual plurality proves to be salient enough to persist even if the gender of the referent(s) is known. Finally, a small portion of tokens evincing coreference between notionally singular antecedents and they can only be accounted for by acknowledging that the anaphor actively contributes information to its anchor, thus refuting the claim that pronouns merely resume their antecedents.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): conceptual number; coreference; epicene generics; pronouns
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