1887
The referential ambiguity of personal pronouns and its pragmatic consequences
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238

Abstract

The present contribution examines how interlocutors resolve reference problems concerning the second singular person (2sg) in ongoing conversation. Apart from its ‘normal’ reading as a term of address, generic and also speaker-referring uses have been documented and studied for a variety of languages. However, there are amazingly few documented cases of interlocutors who openly display having problems of disambiguation between forms of address and reference to a larger entity ‘anybody in this particular situation’. A sequential analysis shows that interlocutors tend not to ask for further specification of reference in a possibly ambiguous situation, most likely for face reasons: Instead, they tend to rely on contextualization in later conversational development and on all available conversational resources. Ambiguous reference that leads to misunderstandings only becomes a topic once serious conversational problems arise and the need for disambiguation becomes more important than interlocutors’ face needs.

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/content/journals/10.1075/prag.26.3.07klu
2016-09-01
2019-10-15
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