8

Here is the example that raised the question in my mind:

He was splashing, enjoying the jungle's great joys, when Horton the elephant heard a small noise.

Here, He refers to Horton; but one cannot see that until one reads the rest of the sentence. This contrasts with the normal placement of the nounal referent before the pronoun:

Horton the elephant was splashing, enjoying the jungle's great joys, when he heard a small noise.

Of course, now the meter isn't nearly as pleasant, so that is presumably why the former was preferred. However, it doesn't occur only in poetry. What is this form called?

1
  • It still rhymes, but the meter is off.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 18:45

1 Answer 1

15

That's a cataphor.

A cataphor is a phrase that is explained by text that comes after the phrase. Example: "Although he loved fishing, Paul went skating with his girlfriend." Here he is a cataphoric reference to Paul.

11
  • Now I need to ask you: did you already know that, or did you look it up, and if the latter, how?
    – Daniel
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 18:08
  • I study computational linguistics. In this case, I knew it already. At other times, I have a better-than-average idea of where (and for what) to look.
    – prash
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 18:18
  • Online or in a reference book?
    – Daniel
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 18:21
  • Online. I like studying from books, but I don't find them all that usable as references (no Ctrl-F).
    – prash
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 18:23
  • 1
    +1 for what must be one of the shortest indisputably correct answers here on ELU. But you probably should have put a definition in your actual answer text, such as a cataphor is a phrase that is explained by text that comes after the phrase. Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 19:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.