Reference-tracking: description and explanation

Bernard Comrie 1
  • 1 Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Inselstraße 22 D-04103 Leipzig, Germany


Various typologically recurrent properties of reference-tracking systems can be given a coherent explanatory account in terms of functional, rather than formal criteria. Two principles in particular are proposed, namely that coreference is more likely to be marked than non-coreference in local domains (e.g. the arguments of a single predicate), whereas non-coreference is more likely to be marked than coreference in extended domains (e.g. across clause boundaries). For the former principle a cognitive explanation is proposed, while it is suggested that the latter principle has a discourse basis.

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STUF is a forum for scholarly articles in the realm of linguistic typology and universals research. The journal covers original empirical as well as theoretical studies of the structural diversity and/or of the invariants of human language(s). Contributions in the areas of areal typology and diachronic typology are also welcome.