the two characters’ lives.
The meaning of a notice such as “Stop. Do not enter” may be quite clear to all the members of a particular community but it does not fulfill its warning function properly if the reader cannot fathom which room it refers to. In other words, besides the fact that people have to assign sense to chunks of language, they have to determine in context who or what is being referred to, that is, to assign reference.
Words such as “today”, “here”, “the former”, “you”, “Her Highness” called deictic terms do not mean very much in isolation because they derive part of their meaning from the context in which they show up. To capture the meaning of “there”, “here”, “this” and “that”, for instance, one must know where the speaker is standing or the place the speaker is pointing to, while the interpretation of “now”, “today”, “yesterday”, etc. implies that one is quite aware of the time when words are uttered. When dealig with phrases such as “sir”, “madam”, “ladyship”, one
specified in a larger context. Consider the example in (307).
(307) Last month she told me that they had already bought the car on August 24th.
The reference time of the matrix sentence is represented by “last month”, the sentence has a past time reference. Since the adverbial “on August 24th” of the subordinate clause specifies event time, then the reference time of the embedded clause corresponds with the reference time of the main clause. Like in the case of present perfect, past perfect indicates that an event took place in an interval of time that began in the past and lasted up to the retrospective point “then” which must be specified. Consider the following examples taken from Lidia Vianu’s English with a Key (1993).
(308) The chamois hoped it would not start limping till the hunter had left the forest.
The past perfect occurs in main clauses as well as in embedded clauses, especially in those introduced by the conjunctions “when”, “after”, “before”, “till”. The past perfect
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