CO-REFERENCE is a type of textual or syntactic semantic connectivity when two or more nominal groups name the same object (referent). The fist constituent of a co-referent pattern is referred to as antecedent whereas the second pronominal or figurative constituent is termed anaphoric (anaphora) or substitute; co-referent pattern may involve nouns, nominals, pronominals and noun phrases. For instance, in It is particularly interesting to read Hemingway when he describes the hunting going on the pronoun he and its antecedent are co-referent [Падучева 2008: 135].
In referential semantics C. is addressed to define the features or characteristics of an entity that is referred to repeatedly within one or two statements. These characteristics display the de dicto modality (which means that different ways of describing one referent are used) and are termed descriptions in the theories of B. Russell, J. Searle, K. Donnellan; modes of reference in G. Frege, N.D. Arutunova; phases of reference and types of designators in W. Quine, S. Kripke, E.V. Paducheva (see in [Linsky 1997]).
In syntactic semantics two nominal groups are co-referent through their semantic connectivity. Syntactic roles and functions of nominal groups are explored as indicators of C. Arutjunova singles out the types of referent descriptors which distinguish between identifying and predicate nominal groups [Арутюнова 1977]; thus, apart from being referentially conditioned, C. is syntactically dependent. Nominal groups are co-referent if they refer to one and the same entity or entity class, if do not constitute a Subject – Predicate construction (i.e. in the sentence The Murder of Smith is a mad man the attributive nominal phrase the mad man and the sentence subject the murder of Smith are not co-referent [Падучева 2008: 89]), and if they do not occur in predicate groups (being attributive rather than referential). In generative semantics C. is the object of interest in Government and Binding theories, as well as in Accessibility theories which study possible ways of anaphora – antecedent correspondences and their use constraints [Chomsky 1981; Fox 1987; Ariel 1988].
In textual and discourse semantics Lyons and Beaugrande distinguish between two types of C.: anaphoric (with antecedent followed by the co-referent anaphoric item) and cataphoric (with antecedent following the anaphoric item, like in They were beautiful. Upon the mantel stood a vase of the nicest flowers John had ever sent her [Swanson 2003: 35], where the anaphoric pronoun they precedes the antecedent nominal group the nicest flowers). C. is also viewed as a subtype of textual connectedness (cohesion) alongside with co-classification (which involves two separate entities belonging to the same class) and co-extension (in which two things refer to something within the same general field of meaning) [Halliday and Hasan 1985].
In cognitive linguistics C. is studied in terms of focus shifts (salience); C. is then seen as “continuation of the shared attention focus of the interlocutors” [Croft 2013 following Cornish 1999].
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