Playing with anaphora

Mike Keefe’s Denver Post editorial cartoon of November 15:

Out of context, “I’m going to China to visit it” is puzzling, since the referent for the pronoun it would appear to be China, so that Obama would seem to be saying that he’s going to China to visit China, which is sensical but fatuous. But the preceding sentence supplies a better referent for the pronoun it, namely the American economy.

This little text still requires some interpretive work, since you have to extend the meaning of visit some to understand how someone could visit the American economy. That’s not very hard to do, and then you see that the text conveys that the American economy is in China. Clever.

One Response to “Playing with anaphora”

  1. NYT Week in Review omnibus « Arnold Zwicky’s Blog Says:

    […] Arnold Zwicky’s Blog Just another weblog « Playing with anaphora […]

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