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Gender and the Interpretation of Pronouns in French A view from Relevance Theory *

By Paul Hedley

Abstract

This paper is primarily intended to consider the role of grammatical gender on French pronouns in the process of their interpretation in utterance contexts. I will first discuss the theoretical context which underlies my general account of pronominal interpretation, the cognitive perspective of Relevance Theory, and sketch the bare bones of that account. I will then move on to a fuller discussion of grammatical gender on pronouns, its effect on interpretation and its representational status, using French as a test-bed, and taking psychological and psycholinguistic data into account. I conclude that in terms of their semantics, French pronouns carry primarily procedural meaning which has a fundamentally pragmatic effect on interpretation, but that gender is conceptual, and as such contributes in a rather different fashion both to the semantics of the pronoun, and to the process of its interpretation. 1. Concepts, Language and the Mind At some level it seems incontrovertible that linguistic interpretation is a cognitive process, and as such a theory which intends to explain and account for it must have some cognitive component at the very least. For Relevance Theory, the cognitive perspective i

Year: 2012
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