In consecutive references to narrative characters, narrators usually
alternate between the use of proper nouns and pronouns. This study aims to
provide a comprehensive and cognitively plausible account of reference
maintenance in online narrative discourse production.
The corpus research reported in this study offers an analysis of the
grammatical and discourse factors affecting referential choice in narrative
discourse production. The analysis is based on a large corpus of written
narratives, elicited through visual stimuli (a comic). The results of the
quantitative analyses indicate that in the maintenance of reference to
narrative characters, the choice between proper nouns and pronouns is
guided by two mechanisms: an independent distance-based alternation of
proper nouns and pronouns, and the repetition of proper nouns after
discourse-structural boundaries. These linear and hierarchical factors can
be assumed to
exert their influence through the fluctuation of (assumed) referent
salience. The relation between context factors and referential form stems
from the salience characteristics inherent in the nominal categories proper
noun and pronoun, which accounts for reference maintenance at both the
clause and the discourse level.
Proper Nouns and Pronouns should be of interest to researchers working in
the fields of text linguistics, cognitive linguistics and psycholinguistics.