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Logophoricity is the binding relation that holds between a special class of pronouns and their antecedents. Logophoric elements, which occur in embedded clauses introduced by verbs of saying, thinking or feeling, must be bound by the antecedent whose speech, thoughts, or feelings are being reported (Clements 1975, p. 241). The phenomenon was first observed in African languages that have a distinct set of logophoric pronouns that are morphologically differentiated from regular pronouns. Logophoricity is also attested with logophoric reflexives, which are non-clause-bounded reflexive pronouns such as is found in Japanese (Kuno 1972, 1987) and Icelandic (Maling 1984).

The conditions under which logophoricity may occur vary across languages. Both syntactic and semantic approaches have been used to account for logophoricity.


The term logophor was introduced by Claude Hagège (1974) to distinguish logophoric pronouns from indirect reflexive pronouns. In particular, Hagège argues that logophors are a distinct class of pronouns which refer to the source of indirect discourse: the original speaker or individual whose perspective is being communicated, rather than the speaker currently relaying this information. George N. Clements (1975) expanded upon this analysis, arguing that indirect reflexives serve the same function as logophoric pronouns. However, indirect reflexives do not differentiate between logophoric and non-logophoric forms, in contrast with Hagège's logophoric pronouns which fall into a morphologically separate set (Reuland 2006, p. 3). For example, the Latin indirect reflexive pronoun sibi may be said to have two grammatical functions (logophoric and reflexive), but just one form (Clements 1975), as opposed to a language that designates a separate pronoun for each function. More recent analyses of logophoricity are in line with Hagège's original account, under which indirect reflexives are considered to be logophors, in addition to those pronouns with a special logophoric form (Clements 1972, p. 3).

Clements also extended the concept of logophoricity beyond Hagège's initial typology, addressing syntactic and semantic properties of logophoric pronouns. He posited three distinctive properties of logophors (Clements 1975, pp. 171–2):

  1. Logophoric pronouns are discourse-bound: they may only occur in a context in which the perspective of an individual other than the speaker's is being reported.
  2. The antecedent of the logophoric pronoun must not occur in the same clause in which the indirect speech is introduced.
  3. The antecedent specifies which individual's (or individuals') perspective is being reported.

These conditions are for the most part semantic in nature. However, Clements also claimed that there are additional syntactic factors which may play a role when semantic conditions are not met, yet logophoric pronouns are still present. For example, logophoric pronouns in Ewe may only occur in clauses which are headed by the complementizer be (which designates a reportive context in this language), and may only have a second- or third-person antecedent (first-person antecedents are prohibited). Other languages impose different conditions on the occurrence of logophors, which leads Clements to conclude that there are no universal syntactic constraints which must be satisfied by logophoric forms.

Logophoric typology[edit]

Logophoric pronouns[edit]


Ewe is a language of the Niger-Congo family that exhibits formally distinct logophoric pronouns (Reuland 2006:3). For example, the third-person singular pronoun is used only in contexts in which the perspective of an individual other than the speaker is being represented (Clements 1975:152). The "speaker" in these cases is not the subject, but rather someone speaking from a point of view external to the sentence. These special forms are a means of unambiguously identifying the nominal co-referent in a given sentence (Clements 1975:142). In the following examples, (1a) contains the logophoric pronoun , while (1b) contains the normal third-person pronoun e. The two sentences are otherwise identical – they differ only in which pronoun occurs, which determines whether the antecedent of the pronoun is the speaker of the proposition (Kofi) or a different individual.

1) a. Kofi be  -dzo
           say LOG-leave
     'Kofii said that hei left.'
   b. Kofi be  e-dzo
           say pro-leave
     'Kofii said that he/shej left.'
     (Clements 1975: 142 (1,2))
Adapted from Clements (1972), this tree diagram for example (1) illustrates the different co-reference possibilities for a logophoric pronoun versus a normal pronoun.

The syntax tree shows that the antecedent and logophoric pronoun in a. are co-referential across a clausal boundary. Notably, logophoric pronouns such as may occur at any level of embedding within the same sentence. The antecedent with which the logophoric pronoun has a co-referent relation need not be in the same sentence (Clements 1972:170).

The semantic condition imposed on the use of these logophors is that the context in which they appear must be reflective of another individual's perception, and not the speaker's subjective account of the linguistic content being transmitted (Clements 1972:171); however, a purely semantic account is insufficient in determining where logophoric pronouns may appear. More specifically, even when the semantic conditions which license the use of logophors are satisfied, there may be additional syntactic conditions which determine whether or not logophoric pronouns actually occur in a sentence (Clements 1972:172). Clements demonstrates that Ewe logophoric pronouns may only be introduced by clauses headed by the complementizer be. In Ewe, this clause-typing element introduces clauses in which the feelings, thoughts, and perspective of an individual other than the speaker are communicated (Clements 1972:169). Thus, although it is primarily the discursive context which licenses the use of logophoric pronouns in Ewe, syntactic restrictions are also important in determining the distribution of pronouns in direct and indirect discourse (Clements 1972:169).


This tree shows how the logophoric pronoun, mɔ̰̄, and third-person pronoun, à̰, can occupy the same space in the same sentence, yet refer to different individuals.

In Wan, a language spoken primarily in the Ivory Coast, the logophoric pronouns ɓā (singular) and mɔ̰̄ (plural) are used to indicate the speech of those who are introduced in the preceding clause (Nikitina 2012).

2) a. yrā̠mū    é   gé   mɔ̰̄  súglù  é   lɔ̄
      children DEF said LOG.PL manioc DEF ate
      'The childreni said theyi had eaten the manioc.'
   b. yrā̠mū    é   gé   à̰   súglù  é   lɔ̄
      children DEF said 3PL manioc DEF ate
      'The childreni said theyj had eaten the manioc.'
      (Nikitina 2012:283)

Nikitina 2012 states that these Wan logophoric pronouns occupy the same syntactic positions as personal pronouns; for examples, they can occur in subject position, object position, as possessors, and so son. They are introduced by verbs that denote mental and psychological activities and states, and are most often used for reported speech. In casual conversation, use of the perfect form of the verb when presenting past speech is often associated with logophoricity, as it implies that the event is more relevant to the current speech report.

In a case where the speaker participates in the reported situation, their voice may be ambiguous due to confusion with other voices in the discourse (Nikitina 2012, p. 295). Ambiguity with logophors also arises from reports where an individual is reporting character A's report on character B's discourse. This is known as a nested report (Nikitina 2012, p. 292). For example, in (3), a character reports on another character's (hyena's) speech. Logophoric pronouns are used for both characters, so while they are distinguished from the current speaker, they are not distinguished from each other.

3) è   gé   kólì má̰, klá̰  gé   dóō     ɓāā     nɛ̰́   kpái  gā   ɔ̄ŋ́   kpū  wiá   ɓā    lāgá
   3SG said lie  be   hyena said QUOT LOG.SG.ALN child exact went wood piece enter LOG.SG mouth
  'Hei said: It's not true. Hyenaj said myi,LOG own child went to enter a piece of wood in hisj,LOG mouth.'
  (Alternative interpretation: 'Hisj,LOG own child went to enter a piece of wood in myi,LOG mouth.')

(Nikitina 2012:293)


Abe, a Kwa language spoken in the Ivory Coast, has two classes of third-person pronouns: o-pronouns and n-pronouns. When embedded within kO-complements selected by verbs of saying, the pronouns exhibit the same contrast as languages that have logophoric pronouns (Koopman & Sportiche 1989, p. 555). In particular, o-pronouns must be disjoint from the matrix subject, and n-pronouns are used as logophoric pronouns to express coreference with the speaker.

A syntax tree showing the derivation of the sentence 'Yapi said that he is handsome'.
Adapted from Koopman and Sportiche (1989), illustrating the possible referential patterns of o-pronouns and n-pronouns in logophoric contexts.

In Abe, while all logophoric verbs are verbs of saying, logophoric effects are only seen with verbs taking a kO-complement (Koopman & Sportiche 1989, p. 580). As example (4) shows, both ka 'tell' and hE 'said' are verbs of saying, but only the latter introduces a kO-complement. As shown in (4a), in the absence of a kO-complement, both o-pronouns and n-pronouns can be co-indexed the matrix subject. But when a kO-complement is present, as in 4b, then n-pronouns are used as logophoric pronouns to refer back to the speaker.

4)  a. yapii ka   api ye Oi,j/n(i),j ye sE
       Yapi  tell Api ye he       is handsome
       'Yapii told Api that hei,j is handsome.'
    b. yapii hE   kO Oj/ni,(j) ye sE
       Yapi  said kO he      is handsome
       'Yapii said that hej/i,(j) is handsome.'

(Koopman & Sportiche 1989:580 (66))

However, logophoricity is observed only within a subset of kO-complements (Koopman & Sportiche 1989, p. 580). In example 5, there are no effects of logophoricity, as the pronouns behave normally. Koopman and Sportiche (1989) suggests the distinction between 4b. and 5. is dependent on the discourse role Source (Sells 1987).

5)  a. m hE      apii kO Oi,j/ni, j ye sE
       I said to Api  kO she      is handsome.
       'I said to Apii that shei,j is handsome.'

(Koopman & Sportiche 1989:580 (67))

Verbal markings of logophoricity[edit]


The affix indicating person, à, in the embedded clause and the affix indicating logophoricity, mə, can occupy the same syntactic position, yet they refer to different individuals.

The simplest form of a logophoric verbal marking is a system called logophoric cross-referencing, which is when a distinct affix is used to specify logophoric cases (Curnow 2002). For example, in Akɔɔse, a language spoken in Nigeria, the prefix mə- attaches to the verb to indicate that the pronoun is self-referencing.

6) a. à-hɔbé  ǎ  á-kàg
      he-said RP he-should.go
     'Hei said that hej (someone else) should go'
   b. à-hɔbé  ǎ  mə-kàg
      he-said RP LOG-should.go
     'He saidi that hei (himself) should go'
   (Hedinger 1984:95)

It is important to note that not all cross-referencing utilizes the same properties. In Akɔɔse, cross-referencing can only occur when the matrix subject is second- or third-person singular, and not in plural or first-person cases (Curnow 2002). However, any language that uses a logophoric cross-referencing system will always use it for singular referents (Curnow 2002:4).


Adding the logophoric affix to the verb allows for a logophoric interpretation of this sentence.

Another manifestation of logophoric affixes is the logophoric verbal affix, an affix that attaches to the verb to indicate logophoricity. Gokana, as seen below, is a language of the Benue-Congo family that uses the verbal suffix -èè, with several allomorphs (phonologically conditioned variations) to indicate logophoricity (Curnow 2002). This can be seen in the example below.

7) a. aè  kɔ  aè dɔ̀
      he said he fell
     'Hei said that hej fell'
   b. aè  kɔ  aè  dɔ-ɛ̀
      he said he fell-LOG
     'Hei said that hei fell'
   (Hyman & Comrie 1981:20)

Unlike logophoric pronouns and the cross-referencing system, the logophoric verbal suffix is not otherwise integrated into a system that marks person (Curnow 2002:11). In Gokana, the verbal affix only contrasts with its own absence as opposed to contrasting with another affix or pronoun, and therefore gives no indication of person.

The ambiguity regarding person that can arise from this lack of marking can be seen in Example 8 below.

8) lébàreè kɔ  aè div-èè  e
   Lebare said he hit-LOG him
  'Lebarei said hei hit himj/ Lebarei said hej hit himi'
   (Hyman & Comrie 1981:24)

The above example shows that because the logophoric marking is attached to the verb, rather than a pronoun, the co-referencing becomes unclear. Either Lebare hit someone else, or someone else hit Lebare, but the logophor does not indicate which meaning is supposed to be conveyed (Curnow 2002:12).

In contrast with cross-referencing, verbal affixes are not obligatory for singular second-person referents. In fact, unlike most other types of logophoricity, verbal affixes may also be used in the first-person case. Generally this use is non-preferred.

Long-distance reflexive logophors[edit]


Logophoric pronoun
First-person pronoun
The Chinese logophoric pronoun ziji and the first-person pronoun wo can occupy the same syntactic position and refer to different individuals.

Liu (2012) does not consider Chinese to be a pure logophoric language, but believes that the referential use of some of its reflexives is decidedly logophoric. In Chinese, there are two types of long-range third-person reflexives: simplex and complex. They are ziji and Pr-ziji (pronoun morpheme and ziji), respectively. The relationship between these reflexives and the antecedents is logophoric. The distance between the reflexives and their antecedents can be many clauses and sentences apart. Ziji is used logophorically.

9) a. Zhangsani renwei [Lisij kan-bu -qi zijii/j]
      Zhangsan  think  Lisi  look-not-up self
     'Zhangsani thinks Lisij looks down on himi/himselfj.'
   b. Wo renwei "ni  bu  yinggai kan-bu-qi  wo."
      I think, "You should not look down on me."
   (Chou 2012: 18)

Example 9) a. shows that the Chinese ziji can be used as a locally bound anaphor, as well as a long-distance logophor.

The second-person pronoun, ni, blocks the long-distance reading of ziji, so it cannot refer to Zhangsan. This is because of differing POV features of Zhangsan and ni.

In Chinese, there exists a blocking effect in which the long-distance reading of ziji is not possible because of a difference in point-of-view (POV) features between ziji and the embedded CP (Chou 2012, p. 18). One of these environments that cause blocking is when the third-person embedded subject in example a is replaced with the first-person or second-person pronoun, as in example c. This replacement restricts the referencing of ziji to only the local antecedent (Chou 2012, p. 20).

9) c. Zhangsani renwei [nij kan -bu -qi zijij/*i]
      Zhangsan  think   you look-not-up self
     'Zhangsani thinks youj should not look down on *himi/yourselfj'
  (Chou 2012: 18)

In example 9) c., ziji can only refer to the second-person pronoun ni, as ziji takes the POV feature of the embedded subject. Here, ni has the second-person POV feature. The POV of the matrix subject is third person, which clashes with the embedded CP subject's POV of second person.

While the logophoric use of Pr-ziji is optional, its primary role is to be an emphatic or intensive expression of pronoun. Emphatic use is shown in example 10. This example shows that substituting the Pr-ziji (here, taziji) for ziji can reduce the emphasis and suggest logophoric referencing (Liu 2012, p. 74).

10) Lao Tong Baoi suiran  bu  hen  jide   zufu    shi zenyang "zuoren", dan fuqin  de  qinjian  zonghou,tai shi    qinyan  
    Old Tong Bao although not very recall grandpa be  what sort of man  but father MM diligence honesty he just with his own eyes 
    kanjian de; tazijii  ye    shi guiju       ren...
    see     PA  himself  also  be  respectable man
    'Although Old Tong Baoi couldn't recall what sort of man his grandfather was, hei knew his father had been hardworking and 
honest—he had seen that with his own eyes. Old Tong Bao himselfi was a respectable person;...' (Liu 2012: 75)


Prior to the first usage of the term "logophor", Susumu Kuno (1972) analyzed the licensing of the use of the Japanese reflexive pronoun zibun. His analysis focused on the occurrence of this pronoun in discourse in which the internal feeling of someone other than the speaker is being represented. Kuno argues that one of the factors that permits the usage of zibun is a context in which the individual whom the speaker is referring to is aware of the state or event under discussion – i.e., this individual's perspective must be represented.

11) a. Johni wa, Mary ga zibuni ni ai ni kuru hi wa, sowasowa site-iru yo.
                                meet  to come days   excited  is
       'John is excited on days when Mary comes to see him.'
    b. *Johni wa, Mary ga zibuni o miru toki wa, itu mo kaoiro ga warui soo da.
                          self     see  when     always complexion bad  I hear.
       'I hear that John looks pale whenever Mary sees him.'
       (Kuno 1972: 182 (93))

The sentence in 11) a. is considered grammatical because the individual being discussed (John) is aware that Mary comes to see him. Conversely, example 11) b. is ungrammatical because it is not possible for John to look pale when he is aware that Mary sees him. As such, John's awareness of the event or state being communicated in the embedded sentence determines whether or not the entire sentences is grammatical. Similar to other logophors, the antecedent of the reflexive zibun need not occur in the same sentence or clause, as is the case for non-logophoric reflexives. This is demonstrated in the example above, in which the antecedent in 11) a. occurs in the matrix sentence, while zibun occurs in the embedded clause. Although traditionally referred to as "indirect reflexives", the logophoric usage of pronouns such as zibun are also referred to as long-distance, or free anaphors (Reuland 2006:4).

In line with Clements' characterization of indirect reflexives, the logophoric pronoun is homophonous with the (non-logophoric) reflexive pronoun (Clements 1975, p. 3). Kuno later explicitly described Japanese as a language which permits the use of the reflexive pronouns for logophoric purposes. He argued that zibun is marked with a [+logo-1] symbol when it is associated with a noun phrase (NP) whose experience or perspective is represented in a proposition. It is this marking that distinguishes the non-logophoric use of zibun from its logophoric use (Kuno 1987:138). He also noted that the logophoric use of zibun is a particular instance of its use as an empathy expression in Japanese (Kuno 1987:257), which is demonstrated in example 11) above. More specifically, the clause that contains the logophoric pronoun zibun expresses a statement made by a logophoric NP in the matrix clause, or a feeling attributed to that entity. Thus, in Japanese, as in other languages exhibiting logophoricity, a logophoric pronoun may be introduced by a verb of saying or thinking in a complement clause (Kuno 1987:138).


In Icelandic, the same reflexive forms are used as both obligatory clause-bound anaphors and as logophoric pronouns. The reflexives can bind with antecedents across multiple clause boundaries, exhibiting the effect of non-clause-bounded reflexives (NCBR) (Maling 1984).

12) Formaðurinni varð   óskaplega reiður. Tillagan    væri       avívirðileg og  væri      henni beint gegn    séri persónulega.
    The-chairman became furiously angry. The-proposal was(subj.) outrageous  and was(subj) it    aimed against self personally.
   'The chairmani became furiously angry. The proposal was outrageous, and it was aimed against him(self)i personally.'
    (Stirling 1993: 265(10))
A syntax tree showing the derivation of the sentence 'Jon knows that Maria loves him'.
Adapted from Maling (1984), showing that the reflexive cannot bind with an antecedent outside a clause that is not in subjunctive mood.

The distribution of NCBR correlates with the grammatical mood. Specifically, the binding of the reflexive can only cross clauses of subjunctive mood, as seen in 13b. (Maling 1984, p. 212). NCBR is prohibited across indicative mood as shown in 14a. below.

13) a. *Joni veit  að María   elskar      sigi
       John  knows that Maria loves(ind.) REFL
      'Johni knows that Maria loves himi.'
b. Joni segir að María elski sigi John says that Maria loves(subj.) REFL 'Johni says that Maria loves himi.' (Maling 1984: 212 (2))
A syntax tree showing the derivation of the sentence 'Jon says that Haraldur knows that Sigga loves him'.
Adapted from Maling (1984), illustrating the 'trickling down' effect of subjunctive mood such as embedding clauses under segja.

When a verb selects a subjunctive complement, the subjunctive mood is not limited to that single clause. If the (structurally) higher verb takes a subjunctive complement, then the subjunctive mood can "trickle down" to the bottom of the tree, even if the intervening verbs often take indicative complements (Maling 1984, p. 223). Example 14) below illustrates this effect. When the indicative clause veit 'know' is embedded under a verb like segja 'say', the subjunctive mood trickles down and allows the reflexive to bind with the matrix subject.

Subjunctive mood is the mood typically used for indirect discourse and reportive contexts that reflect an individual's point of view (Maling 1984, p. 223). By allowing the reflexive to bind with the speaker, the combination of NCBR and the "trickling" effect of subjunctive mood captures the property of logophoric pronouns.

14) Jóni segir      að   Haraldurj viti         að   Sigga.
    Jon says(subj.) that Haraldur knows(subj.) that Sigga
    elski        sigi,j
    loves(subj.) REFL
   'Joni says that Haraldurj knows that Sigga loves himi,j.'
    (Maling 1984: 223(23b))

Syntactic accounts[edit]

There has been much discussion in linguistic literature on the type of approach that would best account for logophoricity. Syntactic accounts have been attempted within the context of Government and binding theory (Stirling 1993:268). More specifically, Binding Theory organizes nominal expressions into three groups: (i) anaphors, (ii) pronominals, and (iii) R-expressions. The distribution and grammaticality of these are governed by Conditions A, B, and C (Sportiche, et al., 2014):

Condition A: An anaphor must be bound within its domain; that is, it must be c-commanded by its co-referent antecedent. An element's 
             domain is the nearest maximal projection (XP) with a specifier.
Condition B: A pronoun must be free within its domain.
Condition C: R-expressions must be free.

Anaphors are not referential in and of themselves; they must be co-indexed to an antecedent. Problems arise when the antecedent falls outside the anaphor's local domain, occurring inside the same sentence or even in a previous one. Seth A. Minkoff (2004) argues that logophors therefore form a special class of anaphors that may be linked to a referent outside their projected domain, categorizing them as a particular subset of anaphora that refer to the "source of a discourse" - i.e., the original (secondary) speaker, not the messenger relaying the information. Alternatively, Lesley Stirling (1993) contends that logophors are not anaphors at all, as they violate Condition A of Binding Theory with their lack of a c-commanding relationship to the antecedent. In relation to this, logophors and long-distance reflexives can be found in overlapping contexts with non-logophoric personal pronouns; they are not in complementary distribution with pronouns as anaphors are. Logophors also fail to satisfy Condition B, as they necessarily have antecedents and so are not referentially free within their domain - thus, they are not true pronominals, based on this condition.

Stirling (1993) points out that although certain syntactic constraints influence the distribution of logophoric forms (such as requiring that an antecedent be a grammatical subject (Kuno 1972), syntactic binding is not crucial, nor sufficient, to explain the mechanism behind this. For example, a logophoric antecedent is often restricted to the semantic role of "source" in a discourse, or the semantic role of "experiencer" of a state of mind. Additionally, whether or not a logophoric form may be used may also be contingent on the lexical semantics of the verb in the matrix clause. There have been attempts to move beyond a solely syntactic approach in recent literature.

Koster's (1984) Free anaphors and opacity[edit]

Free or long-distance anaphors are able to take an antecedent beyond their domain subject; logophors can commonly be found in this situation. Three scenarios may allow these kinds of exceptions: (i) if the logophor is properly bound (e.g. c-commanded and co-indexed) by an antecedent outside its local domain; (ii) if accurately interpreted by an antecedent that does not c-command; or (iii) if accurately interpreted without an explicitly stated antecedent (Koster 1984:417–459). These lead to an extended version of Condition A that applies more generally to locality:

The dependent element (logophor) L is linked to an antecedent A if and only if A is contained within B, as in
                ... [B ... w ... L ...] ...  
in which B is the minimal category containing A, L, and opacity factor w
(Koster 1984).

Under this interpretation, domain is no longer limited to the maximal projection of the logophor. The opacity factor (w) is best described as a variable that takes a different value for different types of dependent elements (L); its role is to delineate domains with respect to category heads (V, N, A, or P). Koster gives the following example as illustration:

... V [PP P NP]

explaining that P is the opacity factor, as head of the maximal projection PP, and "blocks" V from governing NP. Instead, the locality domain that governs NP is the maximal projection of its phrasal head—PP.

Koopman and Sportiche's (1989) logical variables[edit]

Koopman and Sportiche (1989) proposes that "kO" is not a complementizer, but instead is its own verb and taking a sentential complement.

Koopman and Sportiche (1989) proposes that logophoric pronouns are pronouns treated as logical variables and yields logophoric effects in certain syntactic contexts. This analysis is based on Abe which, like many West African languages, has verbal complementizers that introduce certain types of clauses.

One of the major difference between the two classes of pronouns in Abe is that o-pronouns cannot be coindexed with a c-commanding antecedent that is a n-pronoun, regardless of the degree of embedding. This can be accounted for if n-pronoun is not a referential element, but instead is a logical variable Ā-bounded by an operator at Comp (Koopman & Sportiche 1989, p. 567). Another generalization found is that n-anaphors cannot have an o-pronoun antecedent, and vice versa (Koopman & Sportiche 1989, p. 567). This can be captured by distinguishing the two pronouns by some feature like [+/-n], and binding would require the anaphor and the antecedent to be matching in feature (a parallel analogy would be the feature gender).

The logophoric effects can be accounted for by analyzing the complementizer kO as a verb taking a sentential phrase as its complement and a [+n] silent subject as its specifier (Koopman & Sportiche 1989, p. 583). A schematic tree is given on the right. The silent subject receives the theta-role the verb 'say' assigns to its subject, and the feature [+n] will force binding with n-pronouns. As a result, n-pronouns display the binding distribution observed with logophoric pronouns.

Minkoff's (2004) Principle E[edit]

Since logophors cannot be entirely accounted for given the conditions of canonical binding theory (Stirling 1993:268), modifications to this theory have been posited. For example, Seth A. Minkoff (2004) suggests that logophoricity requires a new principle to be added to the set of conditions held by Binding Theory. He proposes Principle E which is stated thus:

Node X is in the backward co-reference domain of node Y if there are two further nodes, A and B, such that A predicates B, A dominates X, and B dominates Y.
Principle E: A free SELF-anaphor must co-refer with, and be in the backward  
co-reference domain of, an expression whose co-referent typically possesses
consciousness (Minkoff 2004:488)

The backward co-reference domain is a specification of the general concept of domain found in binding theory. For anaphors, domain is defined as the smallest XP node in a tree with a subject that contains the DP (Sportiche, Koopman & Stabler 2014:169). Backward co-reference domain dictates that node X is in the backward co-reference domain of node Y if there are two further nodes, A and B, such that A predicates B, A dominates X, and B dominates Y (Minkoff 2004:488). This specification is meant to account for cases where self-anaphors are free and possess consciousness, but are still unacceptable. Minkoff (2004) addresses the two crucial differences his Principle E holds with binding theory. First it operates distinctly in the backward co-reference domain, rather than the more general operation of c-command.This means that it operates in terms of both syntax and semantics, where c-command uses only syntactic relations. It is also sensitive to the attribution of consciousness, unlike the syntax-specific binding theory.

Semantic accounts[edit]

Discourse representation theory[edit]

Sells' (1987) account[edit]

Peter Sells introduced a semantic account of logophoricity using Discourse Representation Structure. This approach allows for the possibility of binding between an antecedent and a logophor within the same sentence or across sentences within a discourse. He introduced three semantic roles, or primitives, which occur in discourse: source, self, and pivot. The source refers to the individual who is the intentional communicator, the self to the individual whose perspective is being reported, and the pivot to the individual who is the deictic center of the discourse, i.e., the one from whose physical perspective the content of the report is being evaluated.(Sells 1987:455–456). The predicates which correspond to these primitives are represented by Discourse Markers (DMs). Additionally, there is a Discourse Marker (S) which stands for the speaker of the discourse. Sells imposes a condition that the DMs associated with a primitive predicate are able to be anaphorically related to other referents in the discourse.

Sells' (1987) DRS for the Japanese sentence: 'Tarooi said that Yosiko loved selfi.'

This account attempts to explain logophoricity as the result of the interaction between the three primitives. For instance, if there is a logophoric pronoun in the discourse, it is interpreted with regards to a NP that has a particular role assigned to it. As such, a logophoric NP is associated with a NP that is also associated with a particular semantic role. It may be the case that all three roles are assigned to one NP, such as the subject of the main verb in the following example:

15) Tarooi wa Yosiko ga zibuni o aisiteiru to itta.
   'Tarooi said that Yosiko loved selfi.'
     (Sells 1987:461)

Since Taroo is the individual who is intentionally communicating the fact that Yosiko loved him, he is the source. Taroo is also the self, as it his perspective being reported, and he is additionally the pivot, as it his from his location that the content of the report is being evaluated.

In the DRS to the right, which is the Discourse Representation Structure for the Sentence in 15, S stands for the external speaker, u stands for a predicate (in this example, Taroo), and p stands for a proposition. The inner box contains the content of the proposition, which is that Yosiko (a predicate of the embedded clause, marked with v) loved Taroo, another predicate, which is marked by z. As can be inferred by the diagram, z is assigned the role of pivot, which corresponds to the NP Taroo.

Stirling's (1993) account[edit]

Following from Peter Sells' account, Stirling (1993:282) argued that there may not be a need for three primitive roles to explain logophoricity. In fact, logophoric phenomena can be explained by introducing only one semantic role into Discourse Representation Structures: the assigned epistemic validator (or, more briefly, validator). This semantic role is assigned the Discourse Marker v. The role of validator is associated with the individual who is responsible for validating the content of what is being reported. Similarly to Sells, Stirling argues that once this primitive is within the bounds of a Discourse Representation Structure, it is free to be anaphorically related to other NPs in the discourse.

Stirling specifies three possibilities for a speaker in reporting a proposition:

i.   the speaker can assume the role of validator: v = i'
ii.  the speaker can dis-assign themselves from the role of validator: v ≠ i'
iii. the speaker reassign the role of validator to another individual: v = x

Here, i' is the DM used for the current speaker, and x is the DM associated with some other available NP in the discourse.

According to Stirling, in using just the role of validator, it is possible to generalize across cases which Sells argued necessitated the use of distinct primitives. For example, in contexts in which an individual's point of view is being reported, Sells posited the primitive of source; where a psychological state of an individual is being reported, Sells introduced the role of self. However, Sells argues that differentiating between these two contexts misses an important generalization: that it is due to certain lexical properties that logophoric pronouns may be used in both contexts. More specifically, where a NP is a logophoric antecedent, it is typically the subject of a verb of communication, thought, perception, or psychological state in the matrix clause, while the logophoric pronoun occurs in a subordinate clause (Stirling 1993:285).

Stirling's (1993) DRS for the Ewe sentences: 'Kofii said that {hei, s/hej} left.'

This account can be used to explain the following examples from Ewe:

16) a. Kofi  be  yè-dzo
       Kofi say Log-leave
      'Kofii said that hei left.'
    b. Kofi  be  e-dzo
       Kofi say Pro-leave
      'Kofii said that s/hej left.'

The above examples are identical save for the logophoric pronoun appearing in 16a and the normal pronoun e appearing in 16b. A DRS representing these sentences follows:

In the DRS to the right, each box represents a separate proposition, and the content of each is understood to have a distinct validator (v1 and v2). For the sentence in 16a, in order to indicate the anaphoric relation between the subject of the matrix sentence (the antecedent of the logophor) and the logophoric pronoun, we would need to specify that x = v2. In order to interpret the DRS as per sentence 16a, we do not need to impose such a condition, as x need not corefer to this antecedent in the discourse.

See also[edit]


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  • Nikitina, Tatiana (2012), "Logophoric Discourse and First Person Reporting in Wan (West Africa)", Anthropological Linguistics, 54: 280–301, doi:10.1353/anl.2012.0013 
  • Reuland, Eric (2006), "Chapter 38. Logophoricity", in M. Everaert, H. van Riemsdijk, The Blackwell Companion to Syntax, Blackwell Publishing Ltd., pp. 1–20, ISBN 9781405114851, retrieved 2014-10-28 
  • Sells, Peter (1987), "Aspects of Logophoricity", Linguistic Inquiry, 18 (3): 445–479 
  • Sportiche, Dominique; Koopman, Hilda; Stabler, Edward (2014), "Chapter 7. Binding and the Hierarchical Nature of Phrase Structure", An Introduction to Syntactic Analysis, Wiley Blackwell, p. 168, ISBN 9781405100175 
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