Piggyback anaphora: accessibility, binding, and bridging

Bart Geurts

Dynamic theories of discourse interpretation seek to describe and explain antecedent-anaphor relations with the help of discourse referents. In a dynamic framework, it is the function of indefinite expressions to introduce new discourse referents, whilst anaphoric expressions serve to reintroduce them. This approach has proved to be as fruitful as it is intuitive, but it is not without its problems. One of the main worries has been to account for what I call "piggyback anaphora" (examples by Karttunen):

(i)You must write a letter to your parents. It has to be sent by email.
(ii) Harvey courts a girl at every convention. She always comes to the banquet with him.

The characteristic feature of this type of anaphora is that, intuitively speaking, the anaphoric link is enabled by the fact that the anaphor sits in the scope of an expression that quantifies over the same range of entities as the expression whose scope contains the intended antecedent. This is the guiding intuition underlying most accounts of the phenomenon, but although I agree that this is the right way to go, I also believe that these accounts are systematically flawed. The key to the problem, I argue, is that the anaphors in (i) and (ii) also rely on bridging inferences. A theory based on this assumption is a great deal simpler than all of its predecessors, but it also raises issues that go to the heart of dynamic semantics.

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