In this paper, I argue for an approach which treats perspective-taking and viewpoint as conceptual patterns prompted by a range of linguistic forms. I show that commonly discussed perspective-taking phenomena cannot be represented in sufficient depth by looking, on the one hand, at local sentence-level issues of disambiguation and, on the other hand, at the “common ground” explanations pertaining to some global communicative context. At the same time, I show that viewpoint phenomena are pervasive in language, rather than being limited to specific instances.
The main argument is that in most instances linguistic expressions represent multiple viewpoints, rather than just one, and that these multiple viewpoints form coherent networks. The paper analyses a number of examples to explicate the nature of viewpoint networks and the mechanisms which lead to interpretation of discourse on their basis. To illustrate these points, I discuss examples from discourse, constructions which specialize in profiling viewpoint configurations (for example, various forms of reported speech, etc.), and grammatical forms (such as tense, pronouns, and determiners). The argument is additionally supported by data from gesture and newly emerging forms of online communication.