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Abstract

Abstract

A speaker/writer uses a placeholder (PH) to fill in the syntactic slot of a target word when she has no immediate access to the word or prefers to avoid explicitly mentioning it for contextual reasons. In the present article, I point out a hitherto understudied usage of PHs: a speaker/writer who does not have in mind a specific target form may use a PH to refer to an arbitrary entity (e.g. person, object, action, event, proposition). I substantiate this claim by analysing a variety of original data on Japanese -derived PHs. Further evidence for this claim comes from a cross-linguistic survey of -derived PHs in Korean and demonstrative-derived PHs in Romanian and Bulgarian. I show that the arbitrary-referential function is observed in PHs in all these languages, regardless of their origins (i.e. word, demonstrative) and their categories (i.e. nominal, verbal).

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/content/journals/10.1075/prag.20076.ser
2021-12-15
2022-01-25
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: Bulgarian ; demonstrative ; Japanese ; target word ; Korean ; Romanian ; wh word
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