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What is a range of reference?



A range of reference is a collection of all possible entities in the referential realm denoted by a lexical unit.


Here are examples of the word wrist in three languages, illustrating different ranges of reference in each language:



Lexical unit

Range of reference

English translation equivalent



The part of the body from the fingertips to the wrist, sometimes including part of the forearm (in Genesis 24:47)

wrist, hand, forearm

Tuwali Ifugao


The part of the body from the fingertips to the joint at the shoulder

wrist, hand, arm



The joint or part of the arm between the hand and the forearm


Here are some other terms that may be confused with the term range of reference:

  • Referent identification—the association of words, expressions or morphemes in a text with a particular participant or object

    Also known as:

    participant identification, participant tracking

  • Range of meaning—the different senses (lexical units) of a lexeme

Context for this page:

Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

Page content last modified: 29 January 2004

© 2004 SIL International