Reference as a Speech Art: An Argument for Studying the Listener

  • S. R. Rochester
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 4b)


In this paper I am concerned with the speaker as an “artist” who creates coherence by guiding listeners to select precise referents for noun phrases. This guidance is not the referring of symbols to things which characterises all language, but a particular referring which marks out some noun phrases as requiring more information in order to be understood, and other noun phrases as requiring no further information. I wish to argue that it is extremely risky to assess the speaker’s artistry solely from an analysis of the speaker’s performance. The art of referring, I will argue, lies in the guidance it gives to the listener. Therefore, to judge the art we must examine not only the speaker’s production, but also the listener’s experience of that production.


False Alarm Rate Noun Phrase Situational Context Class Child Situational Reference 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. R. Rochester
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoCanada

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