My sister vs.your daughter. Perspective changes and their implicit impact on communication
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The present paper argues that the speaker’s choice of a referring expression is often conditioned by the configuration of relations holding between the interlocutors and the designated individual. In turn, using different referring expressions to manipulate various aspects of perspective from which a ‘third party’ individual is apprehended may prompt an implicit redefinition of the interpersonal relations between the speech act participants. Basing on the contexts when members of the same family refer to a third-person individual who is related to each of them via family ties, I illustrate how the speaker may exploit referring expressions, specifically alternating proper names with certain possessive plus kinship term constructions, in order to communicate some emotion or attitude towards his addressee. The present paper offers new insights into the discourse functions of possessives.
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