This book "fills the unquestionable need for a comprehensive and up-to-date handbook on the fast-developing field of pragmatics" and "includes contributions from many of the principal figures in a wide variety of fields of pragmatic research as well as some up-and-coming pragmatists."
Dr. Thrane makes an original contribution to one of the central topics in syntax and semantics: the nature and mechanisms of reference in natural language. He makes a fundamental distinction between syntactic analyses that are internal to the structure of a language and analyses of the referential properties that connect a language with the 'outside world' - and therefore derive in some sense from common human capacities for perceptual discrimination. Dr. Thrane argues that the failure to make this distinction and to attend separately to both kinds of analysis has vitiated previous general accounts of linguistic structure. The book focuses particularly on pronouns and on the role of determiners, quantifiers and other components of the noun phrase. Most of the data come from the modern Germanic languages, especially English, but Dr. Thrane considers also the structural peculiarities of 'classifier languages' like Vietnamese. The book will be important for students of English language as well as for general linguists.