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The use of a pronoun or other word or phrase to refer to someone or something outside the text. Contrast with endophora. Adjective: exophoric.

See also:


From the Greek, "beyond" + "carry"

Examples and Observations:

  • "That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. . . .

    "Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [Member of audience says, 'intellect.'] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?"
    (Sojourner Truth, "Ain't I a Woman?" 1851)

  • "In discourse in general, the third person pronouns may be either endophoric, referring to a noun phrase within the text, . . . or exophoric, referring to someone or something manifest to the participants from the situation or from their mutual knowledge ('Here he is,' for example, on seeing someone who both sender and receiver are expecting). . . .

    "In songs, 'you' . . . is multi-exophoric, as it may refer to many people in the actual and fictional situation. Take for example:
    Well in my heart you are my darling,
    At my gate you're welcome in,
    At my gate I'll meet you darling,
    If your love I could only win.
    This is the plea of one lover to another. . . . The receiver of the song is apparently overhearing one half of a dialogue. 'I' is the singer, and 'you' is her lover. Alternatively, and most frequently, especially away from live performance, the receiver projects herself into the persona of the addresser and hears the song as though it is her own words to her own lover. Alternatively, the listener may project herself into the persona of the singer's lover and hear the singer addressing her."
    (Guy Cook, The Discourse of Advertising. Routledge, 1992)

Pronunciation: EX-o-for-uh
Also Known As: exophoric reference
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