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The Targeting System of Language

Leonard Talmy


A linguistic/cognitive system of “targeting” is proposed that unifies the traditionally distinct domains of anaphora and deixis. As a speaker communicates with a hearer, her attention can come to be on something in the environment — her “target” — that she wants the hearer's attention to be on as well at a certain point in her discourse. This target can be located near or far in either the speech-internal (anaphoric) or the speech-external (deictic) environment. At her selected discourse point, she places a “trigger” — one of a special set of mainly closed-class forms (e.g., English this, that ... More

Keywords: targeting, trigger, cues to a target, speech-external, speech-internal, deixis, anaphora

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9780262036979
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2018 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262036979.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Leonard Talmy, author
University at Buffalo, State University of New York (emeritus)