The New Development of the Study of Discourse Anaphora ------Review of Discourse Anaphora: A Cognitive-Functional Approach

Meixia Li


The English word anaphora is derived from the Greek word ἀναφορά, meaning carrying back. For a long time anaphora has been the object of research in a wide range of disciplines, such as rhetoric, philosophy, theoretical linguistics and so on. A great number of remarkable achievements have been made in these fields. In the 1970’s there was a “discourse turn” in the domain of the humanities and the social sciences, which marked the birth and flourishing of such cross-disciplines as psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, cognitive linguistics, corpus linguistics, discourse studies and so on, and which also paved the way for the turn of the study of anaphora from focusing on intrasentential anaphora to intersentential anaphora. Intrasentential anaphora refers to the relationship between a pronoun and its antecedent being contained within one sentence, while intersentential anaphora can also be called discourse anaphora, which refers to “the relationship between a pronoun and its antecedent earlier in the discourse” (Clark & Parikh, 2006, p. 1). From the late 20th century on, discourse anaphora has become one of the hot topics in several fields such as psychology, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, etc. Many fruitful research results (i.e. Huang, 2002; Clark & Parikh, 2006, etc.) have been obtained. Ming-Ming Pu’s monograph Discourse Anaphora: A Cognitive-Functional Approach, published by LINCOM GmbH in Muenchen, Germany in 2011 is another important work of the study of discourse anaphora. In this book, the author first proposes a cognitive-functional model to account for how the construction of mental structures determines the use and resolution of discourse anaphora. Afterwards he does a comparative quantitative study of both English and Chinese empirical and text data, which demonstrates that on the one hand the occurrence and distribution of discourse anaphora is more universal in nature than language-specific, and on the other hand that the proposed model is adequate, feasible and workable. This book suits such readers as university teachers, graduate students and researchers who are interested in the study of anaphora, cross-linguistic studies, discourse analysis, and language teaching and learning. In the following I shall review each chapter and then offer my evaluation.


Jurisdiction of Beijing Municipality ,Humanities and the Social Sciences

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