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The Relationship Between Speaker’s Reference and Semantic Reference



The distinction between speaker’s and semantic reference arose in connection with Donnellan’s distinction between the referential use and the attributive use of definite descriptions. The central issue concerning the referential/attributive distinction is whether it is semantic or pragmatic. Kripke favours the pragmatic interpretation and developed the terminology of speaker’s and semantic reference in his explanation. The notion of speaker’s reference can apply also to uses of proper names, demonstratives, indefinite descriptions and quantifier expressions. The main danger for the speaker’s reference/semantic reference distinction lies in controversy over the semantics/pragmatics interface. Both Relevance Theory and neo-Gricean theory acknowledge the phenomenon of pragmatic intrusion into semantics. If the pragmatic intrusion involves objective context rather than speaker’s intentions this may permit a distinction between speaker’s and semantic reference.