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Exophoric Reference

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English

Exophora is the use of a word or phrase to refer to something outside the immediate text. It is the opposite of endophora, which uses a word or phrase to refer to something in the immediate text.

Study tip: How to remember the difference between exophora and endophora? Exo means external, exophora is a reference to something external from the text, while endo means internal/in.

Exophoric reference meaning

An exophoric reference is a reference within a text to something outside of the text. Typically, an exophoric reference will rely heavily on the context to be understood. For example:

Look over there!

We have no way of understanding what ‘there’ refers to. ‘There’ can only be understood by the listener, who can see what the speaker is referring to.

‘There’ is being used to refer to something outside of the text that we, as readers, are not privy to. ‘There’ has no meaning to us because we do not have the context of the situation. Therefore, this is an exophoric reference.

Exophoric Reference Image of woman pointing StudySmarterExophoric references refer to things outside the text (Pixabay)

  • Exophora relies heavily on context, thus, it is typically used in speech and dialogue rather than expository prose, which aims to enlighten and inform the reader.

  • Exophoric storytelling relies heavily on referencing events outside of the text that the readers can only understand with additional context.

Types of exophoric reference

Now, having understood exophora in a general sense, we can explore the two types of exophora:

Homophora and deixis.

Homophora

Homophora is a reference made in a text or during a conversation that relies on the listener/reader's general or cultural knowledge in order to be understood. The point of homophora is that the context of what the speaker is saying relies on the listener's own cultural or general knowledge and understanding. Homophora does not only include cultural knowledge; it includes shared knowledge between the speaker and the listener as well.

Examples of exophoric reference - homophora

An example of homophora would be ‘the Queen.’ When somebody in the UK refers to the Queen, we all know they are referencing Queen Elizabeth II. It remains an exophoric reference because 'the Queen' cannot be understood without the additional cultural context of knowing who she is.

Another example would be 'the President' in the US. ‘The President just made a speech regarding the rise in crime’ is homophora, as it relies on the contextual understanding of who the President of the US is.

Another example would be a couple referring to their newborn as 'the baby'. Imagine the speaker saying, 'The baby is hungry, it needs feeding'. The listener is only aware of which baby is being spoken about because of their shared knowledge.

Another example might be students referring to their headteacher. There are many headteachers in many schools, but the students' shared knowledge means that when one student says, 'The headteacher is holding a parent-teacher conference next month', the other students are aware of who 'the headteacher' refers to.

Deixis

Deixis is a reference to a specific time, place, thing, or person in context with the use of general words or phrases. Deictic words have a fixed semantic meaning, but their denoted meaning can vary depending on the time or place.

Examples of exophoric reference - deixis

We'll clean out the garage tomorrow.

Tomorrow refers to an actual date. The semantic meaning of tomorrow is 'the next day,' but the denoted meaning here depends on when the speaker says the sentence. For example, if the speaker said this on 4 June, then 'tomorrow' refers to 5 June. On the other hand, if it was said on 19 August, then 'tomorrow' refers to 20 August.

The three types of deixis are personal, spatial, and temporal. Let's see some examples:

Personal deixis

Personal deixis often uses pronouns (e.g. I, me, they, she, we) to refer to a specific person.

They are always late, which is frustrating to me.

'They' and 'me' are pronouns, so although the speaker and listener know who the speaker is referring to, we do not know who is being referred to without context. Therefore, this is an exophoric reference because the context of who the people are is not given within the text.

Spatial deixis

Spatial deixis often uses adverbs (e.g., here, there) and demonstrative pronouns (e.g., this, that, these, those) to refer to a specific location.

I put it over there.

We have no idea as to where 'there' is, but the speaker and listener do. Therefore, this is an exophoric reference because the context of location is not given within the text.

Temporal deixis

Temporal deixis often uses adverbs (e.g., now, then) to remember a specific time.

We will get to yours soon.

Only the speaker and listener have the context of when this statement was made, and how long 'soon' might be. 'Soon' may refer to 15 June at around 4 pm, but this has not been made clear to us. Therefore, this is an exophoric reference because the context of time is not given within the text.

Exophoric Reference - Key takeaways

  • Exophora is the use of a word or phrase to refer to something outside of the immediate text. It is the opposite of endophora, which uses a word or phrase to refer to something within the immediate text.

  • An exophoric reference is a reference within a text to something outside of the text. Typically, to be understood, an exophoric reference will rely heavily on the context.

  • Homophora is a reference that is understood depending on the listener/reader's general or cultural knowledge. For example, the Queen, the President, the headteacher, etc.

  • Deixis is a reference to a specific time, place, thing, or person in context with the use of general words or phrases.

  • The three types of deixis are personal, spatial, and temporal.

Exophoric Reference

‘I put it over there,’ ‘The Prime Minister is attending,’ and ‘James will be there tomorrow’ are all examples of exophoric references.

A word/phrase that is exophoric refers to something outside of the immediate text.

Exophoric storytelling is storytelling that relies heavily on referencing events outside of the text that the readers can only understand with additional context.

Endophoric references are words/phrases used in a text to refer to something within the text. On the other hand, exophoric references are words/phrases used in a text to refer to something outside of the text.

Exophoric references are used to refer to something outside of a text that is only understandable to those with shared knowledge and context.

Final Exophoric Reference Quiz

Question

Fill in the blanks: _______ is the use of a word/phrase to refer to something outside of the immediate text. 

Show answer

Answer

Exophora.

Show question

Question

Is this an example of homophora?


‘Has the teacher left the classroom yet?’

Show answer

Answer

Yes

Show question

Question

True or false:


An endophoric reference is the opposite of an exophoric reference. It is a reference within a text to something inside the text.


Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Which of these words/phrases is not deictic?


Show answer

Answer

Spring

Show question

Question

Is this an example of exophora or endophora?


‘The suitcase is over there.’


Show answer

Answer

Exophora

Show question

Question

What types of deixis are not present in this example of exophora? ‘She is coming here tomorrow.’


Show answer

Answer

Personal deixis

Show question

Question

The three types of exophoric reference are personal, temporal, and spatial.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

In this example, what literary device is being used? ‘The President knew you would get there safely.’


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Answer

Personal deixis

Show question

Question

________ is a reference to a specific time, place, thing, or person in context with the use of general words or phrases.

Show answer

Answer

Deixis

Show question

Question

In this example, what is the italicised word an example of? ‘She knew you would get there by tomorrow.’


Show answer

Answer

Homophora

Show question

Question

Fill in the blanks: While ______ deixis often uses adverbs (e.g. here, there) and demonstrative pronouns (e.g. this, that, these, those) to refer to a specific location, ______  deixis often uses adverbs (e.g. now, then) to remember a specific time.


Show answer

Answer

Spatial, Temporal.


Show question

Question

Is this sentence an example of exophora or endophora?


Jane wanted to make dinner, but she didn’t have the ingredients.


Show answer

Answer

Endophora

Show question

Question

Which of these is a type of exophora?


Show answer

Answer

Homophora

Show question

Question

Fill in the blanks: Spatial is the use of adverbs and demonstrative pronouns to refer to a specific _______.

Show answer

Answer

location

Show question

Question

Are homophora and deixis types of exophora or endophora?

Show answer

Answer

Exophora

Show question

Question

Exophoric references rely heavily on _______.

Show answer

Answer

context

Show question

Question

Fill in the blank:


Exophora is the use of a word or phrase to refer to something _______ the immediate text.


Show answer

Answer

outside

Show question

Question

What is the opposite of exophora?

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Answer

Endophora

Show question

Question

Exo means...

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Answer

external

Show question

Question

Endo means...

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Answer

internal 

Show question

Question

Name the two types of exophoric reference.

Show answer

Answer

Homophora and deixis

Show question

Question

Personal deixis often uses ________.

Show answer

Answer

pronouns

Show question

Question

Fill in the blanks:


Homophora relies on ______ knowledge between the speaker and the ________.

Show answer

Answer

shared, listener

Show question

Question

Fill in the blank:


Deictic words have a ______ semantic meaning

Show answer

Answer

fixed

Show question

Question

The denoted meaning of deictic words _______.

Show answer

Answer

can vary

Show question

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