Forward Pointing Devices

As you’d expect, “forward pointing devices” are devices which point forward to something else.

Pronouns (he, they, she, it) usually point back to something, they are usually used to replace a noun. For example: “Kirsty is my wife. She is great.” The pronoun she points back to the proper noun Kirsty.

However, pronouns (and demonstratives like this and that) can also be used to point forward to something. Since this is not their default usage, it’s called a marked usage. But what is it marked for? Why use devices like this? What do they achieve?

Runge argues that the presence of a forward-pointing device breaks the continuity of the discourse and so serves to add prominance to the thing that is yet to be introduced (i.e. when the discourse is resumed).

Examples are given of forward pointing using:

  • interrogatives: who” or “what” – creating a rhetorical question which is then answered by the author
  • demonstrative pronouns: “this” or “those” – pointing forward to a person or concept
  • adverbs (termed pro-adverbs): “Οὓτως – pointing forward to an “action that describes the manner in which something is done” (p64)

This idea of forward-pointing only applies to words/devices/pronouns/adverbs etc. that do no have an antecedent in the context (i.e. ones which cannot be anaphoric).

PS – Backward pointing devices are usually termed anaphoric, whereas forward pointing is termed kataphoric.


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