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Reference

Reference and sense


Nominals (names and noun phrases) refer to specific entities in the world
(a dog, she, Francisco)
– The relationship by which language hooks onto the world is usually
called reference.
– In semantics the action of picking out or identifying an entity or
location with words is called referring (that dog, Paris). The entity
referred to is called the referent.
– Names have reference, they are labels for people, places and so on;
they are definite (their referents can be identified) and context is
important.
– The semantic links between elements within the vocabulary system is an
aspect of their sense, or meaning.

Reference and denotation:


– Some writes (like Lyons) separate the terms refer and denote.
– Denotation, the relationship between a linguistic expression and the
world. Nouns refer to things in the world while denote certain classes or
items (sparrow, room). Referring is what speakers do, while denoting is
a property of words.
– Denotation is a stable relationship in a language not dependent on any
one use of a word. Reference, on the other hand, is a moment-by-
moment relationship: what entity somebody refers to by using the word
sparrow depends on the context.
Types of reference
– Linguistic expressions can be used to refer in different ways:
Referential possibilities of names and noun phrases, which together we
can call the nominal, the linguistic unit which most clearly reveals this
function of language.

Referring and non-referring expressions


– There are linguistic expressions, e.g., the words so, very, maybe, if,
not, all,which can never be used to refer; they do not themselves identify
entities in the world (they are non-referring items).
– By contrast, nouns are (potentially) referring expressions; there are
instances when speakers use them to refer and instances when they do not
(some sentences can be ambiguous).

1. If a speaker says PETER understood THE MESSAGE the nominals in capital letters:
a) are irrelevant
b) are an aspect of their sense
c) pick out entities in the world
d) are both propositions
2. The sentence “The police arrived promptly after the attack”, identifies “the police” as
a) a referring expression
b) a denotation expression
c) none
d) both
3. Choose the correct option:
a) The words almost, probable, and, and if refer to things in the world.
b) The words almost, probable, and, and if do no have reference and they did not have sense either.
c) The words almost, probable, and, and if have both reference and sense.
d) The words almost, probable, and, and if do no refer to things in the world but have some sense.
4. Which of the following is a correct description of reference?
a) a relationship between expressions and other expressions which have the same meaning
b) the set of all objects which can potentially be referred by an expression
c) a relationship between a particular object in the world and an expression used in an utterance to pick
that object out
d) a relationship between expressions and other expressions which have similar meanings
5. When you look up the meaning of a word in a dictionary, what do you find there?
a) Its referent
b) Its reference
c) An expression with the same sense
d) Its denotation
6. When you look up the meaning of a word in a dictionary, what do you find there?
a) Its reference and its context
b) A sentence with the same sense
c) Its representation
d) Its referent and its context
7. Almost, if, and, or are:
a) Words without sense
b) Words with connotation
c) Words without reference
d) Words with reference and sense
8. The principal function of words like and, if, or, between is:
a) relational
b) denotational
c) instructional
d) parenthetical
9. In I have got him a new pair of shoes, identify “shoes” as:
a) a referring expression
b) a denoting expression
c) none
d) both
10. The sentence “Tables are made of wood” identifies “tables” as a
a) a referring expression
b) a denoting expression
c) none
d) both
11. If a speaker says “He studied English law” the underlined nominals
a) are an aspect of their sense
b) refer to specific entities in the world
c) are both propositions
d) are irrelevant
12. If you say “My brother is sleeping in the car”, “My brother” and “the car” identify:
a) a reference relation
b) a sense relation
c) both
d) neither a sense nor a reference relation
13. What is intended by the word “mean” in the following expression:” when my brother talks about his former
friend he means Peter”
a) reference
b) sense
c) both
d) none
14. What is intended by the word meant in the following expression: “When I said that I’d star cooking after 10, I
meant I’d start baking the cakes”
a) reference
b) sense
c) both
d) none
15. If a speaker says “I told you to avoid him” underlined nominals:
a) are irrelevant
b) are obvious
c) pick out entities in the world
d) are all predications
16. What is intended by the word “mean” in the following expression: When an American talks about the US
former President she means Mr Bush
a) reference
b) sense
c) both
d) none