When we speak of a pronoun as looking back or referring back to its antecedent we are using terms of traditional grammar: so I begin with some methodological remarks on the use of such terms. It is a fallacy — one that I have called, from its best known perpetrator, the Socratic fallacy — to infer a lack of understanding of such terms from the absence of a rigorous formal definition of them. A common understanding of terms may be achieved, and in some cases must be achieved, by other means than formal definition. People who have received a certain sort of high- school education will mostly agree about the parsing of an English sentence, with the use of grammatical terms like these; it is only this sort of common understanding of familiar grammatical terms — including the ones italicized in my first sentence — that I am assuming. It is a merely extensional common understanding: people will mostly agree in picking out examples.
KeywordsRelative Clause Definite Description Possessive Pronoun Indirect Speech Grammatical Subject
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