Smoke from an island

An anaphoric island. The smoke signalling another Page on this blog for anaphoric islands. Created back on 5/27/15, an Anaphoric islands Page, with links to postings about anaphoric islands (like this one). Now, today, a new Page with examples of them.

Today’s example was distributed to an informal group of anaphoric islanders (we collect the things — hey, it’s an innocent hobby) by one of our number, Larry Horn, who noted it back in the 1970s. Out of context, it’s a real challenge to interpret:

(1) I don’t think that non-smokers should have to put up with people who do

The noun non-smokers ‘people who are not smokers’ is treated here as equivalent to people who don’t smoke, so that (1) is intended as a paraphrase of

(2) I don’t think that people who don’t smoke should have to put up with people who do (smoke)

Now, the anaphora in (2) is unproblematic, and the contrast between people who don’t smoke and people who do smoke  is clearly expressed in the parallel relative clauses there.

But in (1) the verb smoke that’s the antecedent for the anaphor do is fairly far “inside” the word nonsmokers:


(with negative prefx non-; agentive suffix -er; and plural suffix -s)

and the antecedent and anaphor are not at all in structurally parallel positions.

Given (1) on its own, with some effort you can work out what’s packed into the anaphor do. But things are much easier if you have the context:

he thought a law providing non-smoking areas in public places would be fair for both smokers and non-smokers. [Here the contrast is set up explicitly and clearly, in preparation for (1).] “I don’t think that non-smokers should have to put up with people who do, and it would not be that hard for smokers to smoke in special areas.”

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