First of all, my special thanks are due to my
supervisor Dr. Anjuman
M. Sabir, for her great help, guidance, valuable comments and continuous
encouragement. Her encouragement and
valuable comments are much appreciated. She was always available for advice and
Thanks also for Salahaddin
University, especially College of Education, English department.
Finally, I would like to thank my parents
for being patient, supportive and their endless prayers. A lot of thanks go to my sister (Shya), she was motivating me
all the times, I
was really lucky to have her by my side.
This paper which is about Reference
falls into three sections, each of the
sections is devoted to discussing an
aspect related to the reference. The first section deals with an
introduction, which contains (title, problem, aim, procedure and hypothesis). The second
section provides an overview of reference
and its historical background. Section three sheds light on, referring expressions, and differences between (Reference, denotation,
and sense), then types of referring expressions (Names and Noun or Noun Phrase)
are mentioned, after that there is exophoric and endophoric, also anaphora, and cataphora. Finally,
there is conclusion and references.
1.1 The title
1.2 The problem
1.3 The aim
1.4 The Procedure
1.5 The Hypothesis
2.1 What is reference
background of reference
3.1 Reference, denotation and sense
3.2 Referring expressions
3.3 Types of referring expressions
3.3.2 Noun (Noun Phrase)
3.4 Exophoric and Endophoric relations
The notion of reference will be introduced,
and consider more closely the range of expressions that speakers may use to
refer to some object or person in the world.
Some expressions can only be used as referring expressions, some never
can, and some other expressions can be used to refer or not, depending on the
kind of sentence they occur in.
1.1 The Title
This study which is entitled
as ” Reference”. Means using an
expression which refers to an object or a person.
1.2 The Aim
My aim of choosing
this topic, which is a reference, is to
give the reader an overview of reference
and how to differentiate it with another term
like (denotation and sense).
1.3 The Problem
The problem with using reference,
the referring expressions, could be confused with denotation and sense.
1.4 The Hypothesis
The study hypothesized
that using some expressions can be referred
and not refer to the (object or person), it
depends on the context in which the expression occurs in.
1. Definition of reference and
other concepts related to it.
2. Types of referring
3. Difference between reference and some other terms such as
2.1 What is a reference?
Most of the linguists have defined reference as followings:
Reference is a symbolic
relationship that a linguistic expression has with the physical object it
represents. For example, The word ‘John’ refers
to the person John. The word ‘it’ refers
to some previously specified object. The object referred to is called the referent of the world. (Hartmann & Stork, 1972)
and Hasan (1976) have mentioned that what
characterizes reference is the specific nature of the information and that
information which is retrieved is the referential meaning, the identity of the
particular thing or class of things that is being referred to.
Lyons (1968) states that “the relationship which holds between
words and things is the relationship of reference: words REFER to things”. Yet, Lyons, on the nature of reference points
out that: “it is the speaker who refers (by using some appropriate
expression); he invites the expression with reference by the act of
referring”.( Lyons, 1977)
Morley (1985), sees the reference
as the meaning relationship which links full lexical expression of an entity or
circumstance with the pro-form/substitute to which it refers.
Yule described reference as, ”it is an act in which a
speaker, or writer, uses linguistic forms to enable a listener, or reader, to
identify something. Those linguistic
forms are referring expressions”.
Reference is mostly interpreted
as the relationship between nouns or pronouns and objects that are named by
them. Reference is a relationship between parts of a language and things
outside the language (in the world). (Hurford, et al., 2007)
also mentions Odgen and Richards’ (1923) distinction between referent and
reference. While the term ‘referent’ specifies an object or state of affairs in the external world that is
identified by means of a word or expression, the term ‘reference’ points
to the concept which mediates between the word or expression and the ‘referent’.(1977)
is that part of the meaning of a noun
phrase that associates it with some entity”. (Fromkin, et al., 2013)
2.2 Historical background of reference
The word reference is
derived from Middle English referren, from Middle French référer,
from Latin referre,
which means “to carry back”, formed from the prefix re- and ferre, “to bear”. A number
of words derive from the same root, including refer, referee, referential, referent, referendum. (Klein, 1969)
In philosophy and semantics, Wales (1989) observes that reference is
concerned with the relation between words and extra-linguistic reality: what
words stand for or refer to in the outside world or universe of discourse. So,
the traditional semantic view of reference is one in which the relationship of
reference is taken to hold between expressions in a text and entities in the world and that of co-reference between
expressions in different parts of a text. (Brown & Yule, 1983)
3.1 Reference, denotation and
Lyons (1995), clarifies ‘denotation’ as an expression is
invariant and it is utterance-independent: it is part of the meaning which the
expression has in the language-system, independently of its use on particular
occasions of utterance. While ‘Reference’, in contrast, is variable and
Also, Lyons in (1977), has separated the
term denote and refer. For him, refer is
used for the action of a speaker in picking out entities in the world, while denote
is used for the relationship between a linguistic expression and the world. (Lyons, 1977)
A sparrow flew into the
As we can see in the above example, two noun phrases are mentioned, a ‘
sparrow’ and ‘room’ to refer to things in the world, while the nouns sparrow
and room denote certain classes of items. In other words, referring is what speakers do,
while denoting is a property of words. From
these definitions we can see another difference, denotation is a stable
relationship in a language which is not dependent on and one use of the word. Reference, on the other hand, is a moment-by-moment relationship; what
entity somebody refers to by using the word sparrow depends on the context. (Saeed, 2009)
Denotation has to do with the human cognitive capacity of making
concepts and using words to name such concepts. When a child is learning to
speak and he/ she is able to differentiate between various types of animals and
put them in groups, for example, when s/he will be able to say cat and dog.
He/she then will be denoting and saying that this particular dog is a
member of that particular group of animals. (Rambaud, 2012)
It is important to note that reference is often compared with the
sense. While reference deals with the relationship between the
linguistic elements (language) and the non-linguistics elements (the world),
the sense is completely concerned with
the intralinguistic relations,
particularly words (Palmer, 1981). Thus, the sense of tulip, for
instance, relates to the sense of other
words such flower (known as hyponym), and the sense of profound relates
to the sense of deep (known as a synonym).
The relation among words is also known as sense relation.
The referent of an expression is often a thing or a person in the world,
while the sense of an expression is not a thing at all but an abstraction. The
sense of an expression is an abstraction in the mind of the speaker, because of
that, they find it difficult to say what
type of entity the sense of an expression is. (Hurford, et
The difference between reference and denotation has to do with abstraction
as well. Reference points to something specific and clearly identifiable at
some point. For example, if someone uses the phrase “the queen”, this person is
likely to be referring to Queen Elisabeth II in UK and most probably to Queen
Sofía in Spain. However, its denotation is something more abstract since it
will include all those individuals that could be referred to by using the word
“queen” (Rambaud, 2012)
To sum up, denotation relates expressions to classes of entities in the world,
whereas reference points to the specific entity (concrete or abstract) that the
speaker is referring to. Moreover sense
deals with the relationships inside the language, while reference deals with
relationships between language and world.
3.2 Referring Expression
referring expression is an expression which
is used in an utterance to refer to something or someone (or a clearly
delimited collection of things or people), as well as it is used with a specific
referent in mind. (Hurford et al., 2007).
Kreidler (2002), has defined referring expression as a piece of
language, a noun phrase, which is used in an expression and is linked to
something outside language, some living or dead, an imaginary entity, concept or group of entities.
There is also another description of
referring expression, by Yule (1996), as a linguistic form which enables a
listener, or reader, to identify something
Lyons (2009) clarifies that most of referring expressions in
natural languages are context-dependent in one way or another.
me. Fred’, is a referring expression.
no Fred at this address’ here
‘Fred” is not a referring expression.
The name Fred in the first example is a referring expression because the speaker has a particular person in mind when
he says ‘Fred’. While Fred in the second example is not a referring expression because in this case, a speaker would not have a particular
person in mind in uttering the word. (Hurford, et al., 2007)
the other hand, Saeed (2009) stated there are linguistic expressions which can
never be used to refer, for example, the
words so, very, maybe, if, not, all.
All these words do of course give meaning to the sentences they occur in and thus help sentences denote, but they do not themselves identify
entities in the world.
3.3 Types of
The entities that we refer to are of
different kinds and a language may have ways of recognizing different kinds of
referents, different reference classes. (Kreidler, 2002)
can begin by looking at some major differences in the ways that words may be
used to refer. We will mostly focus on
the referential possibilities of names and noun phrases, which together we can
call nominals. (Saeed, 2009)
simplest circumstance of nominals which have reference might seem to be named. Names can be used as labels for people, places, etc. and often seem
to have little other meaning. Names are
definite in that they carry the speaker’s assumption that her audience can identify
the referent. (Saeed, 2009)
He looks just like Eddie Murphy.
Here, the speaker assuming (Supposing) that you can identify the
Yule (1996) states that some names like ‘Shakespeare’ can only be
used to identify one specific person. This belief is mistaken because we can identify a person through some expressions
which are used for the thing, also things
can be identified via name such as, ‘Shakespeare’.
For example, it is possible, when a
student asks another student the question in (a) and receive the reply in (b):
Can I borrow your Shakespeare?
Yeah, it’s over there on the table.
In the example above, the intended
referent would not be a person, but probably a book (notice the pronoun ‘it’).
3.3.2 Nouns (Noun phrases)
(2009), has stated that nouns and noun
phrases (NPs) can be used to refer: indefinite (a
man, an island) and definite (the
woman, the singer) NPs.
(2002), says that referring expression is definite if the referent from the
physical-social context is identifiable for both speaker and hearer. Such as:
e.g. Put the book on the table
definite referring expression the book and the table.
If we use (woman) as an indefinite and definite noun phrase:
I spoke to a woman about the noise.
I spoke to the woman about the noise.
we can see in (a) a woman is an indefinite
noun phrase, while in (b) the woman is a definite
NPs can refer to individuals, for instance, NPs like the happy swimmer, my
friend, and that girl can all be used to refer to ( for example
Jack) in the situation in which you’ve observed Jack swimming. The same is true for pronouns such as I,
you, and him, which also function as NPs. (Fromkin, et al., 2013)
3.4 Exophoric and Endophoric relations
There are some forms of reference
which are called as Co-referential forms.
As Halliday & Hasan (1976) put it, they are forms which
“instead of being interpreted semantically, in their own right, make
reference to something else for their interpretation”. Where
interpretation lies outside the text, in the context of the situation, the relationship is said to be an Exophoric
relation. Where the interpretation lies within a text, they are called
Endophoric relations. The various
markers refer either back to something that has already been mentioned (or
implied), in this case, they have an anaphoric reference or forward to something
which is about to be said, in this case,
they have a cataphoric reference,
(Morley, 1985). So endophoric can be classified into anaphoric and cataphoric reference.
Danny doesn’t like hamburger. He avoids eating it whenever
Danny and hamburger are two nouns with exophoric reference, their interpretations do not depend on text (
interpretation lies outside text), while he and it have endophoric
reference: they refer to Danny and hamburger in the context (interpretation
lies within the text)
To illustrate the contrast mentioned above, it
seems appropriate to give Halliday and Hasan’s (1976) diagram:
(SITUATIONAL) (TEXTUAL )
to preceding to following
or anaphora is a subsequent reference to
already introduced referents. The initial expression is
called antecedent, the second or subsequent
expression is called anaphor.” (Yule, 1996)
Notice the passage below which is very short:
v In the film, a man and a woman were trying to wash a cat. The man was holding
the cat while the woman poured water on it.
He said something to her and they started laughing.
As we can see
in the passage, the pronouns (it, he, her,
and they) are a subsequent reference to already mentioned
referents, which are known as anaphoric reference or anaphora. Precisely
speaking, the subsequent reference is called anaphor and the initial reference is known as antecedents. So here, a man, a woman, and cat
are antecedents because they are mentioned for the first time.
Two different types
of anaphora mentioned by Quirke, et al (1985), which are direct and indirect. Indirect anaphora, the referents have already occurred
in the text, and thus can be identified directly, whereas in indirect
anaphora the hearer identifies the referents indirectly from his knowledge by
inferring what has been mentioned. Consider the following sentences:
John bought a TV and tape recorder,
but he returned the tape recorder.
John bought a car, but when he drove it one
of the wheels came off.
The first sentence exemplifies the use of
direct anaphora where the referent the tape
recorder can be identified directly, while the second sentence contains the indirect anaphora where the noun car has been substituted by anaphor it.
Matthews defines anaphora as “the relationship
between a pronoun and another element, in the same or in an earlier sentence,
that supplies its referents”.
Yule (1996) has defined cataphora as the use a word
(typically a pronoun) to introduce someone or something that is more fully
The concept cataphora is less common in use than that of anaphora. Cataphora is
the relation between an anaphoric expression and an antecedent that comes later
(Matthews, 1997). Thus cataphora refers to an entity that is mentioned later in the discourse. Such as:
v I turned to the corner
and almost stepped
on it. There was a large snake in the middle of the path.
The pronoun it (the cataphor) in the sentence can be
interpreted as referring forward to a noun phrase a large snake, (the antecedent) and is said to have a cataphoric reference.
Finally, here are two more examples of both anaphora and cataphora:
After Ted arrived, he asked for a cup of coffee. (anaphoric pronoun)
After he arrived, Ted asked for a cup of coffee. (cataphoric pronoun)
The following points are
Reference is a relationship which we can
understand the meaning of an item by referring to another previous item that
stands for it. It is a semantic relationship, and it can be used for economic purposes to avoid repetition and
Names, nouns or noun phrases can be
used as a referring expression to identify an object or a person.
3. We have to know that not all expression can be used to refer to
something or someone.
Using some referring expressions
may cause confusion, maybe because of misunderstanding
of some specific terms from the hearer.
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