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Regular version of the site

Article

Three routes to person indexicality

Natural Language Semantics. 2017. Vol. 25. No. 4. P. 329-354.

Uncontroversially, the meaning of first and second person pronouns and “imposters”, i.e. expressions like yours truly, (Collins and Postal 2012), should be indexical (Kaplan 1977/1989, Stalnaker 1970), but how exactly this indexicality is achieved has been a matter of some debate. While not settling the debate, this paper aims to show that there is no single way to become a person indexical. Natural language allows for at least three different represen- tations leading to person indexicality. Evidence for this comes from sentences involving imposters and pronouns coreferent with or bound by them. Partic- ularly telling are cases of variation between third and non-third pronouns in sentences with imposters, first discussed by Collins and Postal. Constraints on this variation support the view that it is not adequate from either an empirical or an explanatory perspective to treat all person indexicals uniformly.