Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the EnglishProofreading Service - Pain in the English

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September 17, 2013

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Reference, refer.

  • September 17, 2013, 5:59am

Although "I'm referencing our trip to the mall" is just a silly way of saying "I refer...", there is a difference between "to refer" and "to reference." To refer is to point back to an event or object, once, in passing. To refer is to make a brief clarification. "To mention" is a close synonym,as in "Here, I'm mentioning/ talking about my trip to the mall." To reference is to take something as a referent of reference point to which succeeding terms relate. Example: My use of the word I in my early poems is a referent (reference point) to which my subsequent uses of that word relate. My I evolves over time, but I do not forget my early sense of self as subject, and each later I references that first usage." The thing to notice here is that when I reference I do not explicitly refer back or mention. I perform an implicit action when I reference, an explicit one when I refer.
The silly use of" reference" for "refer" is a bastardization of a term from logic that entered literary speech via literary theory. Like it or not, though, we can expect to see lots more of it.