Data points: anaphora 4/25/11

An account to friends of my sighting a famous Palo Alto resident who happens to be (like me) a Princeton graduate.

Dinner at Mandarin Goumet, couple to my left, the man very familiar-looking, older, ramrod-straight, expensive but understated suit, imperious in tone. Then the guy to his right and my left mentioned Princeton, and he and I both swiveled to look at him for a moment.

The issue is the referent of the he and the referent of the him in the final clause. Two men have been mentioned, and in principle either pronoun could refer to either of them. But my little tale was about the first man mentioned, and he is clearly the referent of the he, so that the second man must be the referent of the him. I could have used the first man and the second man (or some other NPs), but 3sg personal pronouns do the trick just fine, despite the in-principle ambiguity of my version.

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