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Exophora

Exophora

[ek-sof-er-uh]
In linguistics, exophora is reference to something extralinguistic, i.e. not in the same text, and contrasts with endophora. Exophora can be deictic, in which special words or grammatical markings are used to make reference to something in the context of the utterance or speaker. For example, pronouns are often exophoric, with words such as "this", "that", "here", "there", as in that chair over there is John's said while indicating the direction of the chair referred to. Given "Did the gardener water those plants?", it is quite possible that "those" refers back to the preceding text, to some earlier mention of those particular plants in the discussion. But it is also possible that it refers to the environment in which the dialogue is taking place — to the "context of situation", as it is called — where the plants in question are present and can be pointed to if necessary. The interpretation would be "those plants there, in front of us". This kind of reference is called exophora, since it takes us outside the text altogether. Exophoric reference is not cohesive, since it does not bind the two elements together into a text.

Homophoric references, which are a kind of exophora, are not a feature of grammar, but rather are generic phrases which are given a particular interpretation in a particular social context. For example, in the United Kingdom, "the Queen" is a homophoric reference to the Queen of the United Kingdom, whereas in the Netherlands "the Queen" is a homophoric reference to the Queen of the Netherlands.

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