Question 1a: What does 'It' refer to in the following sentence:
- It was clearly in the mood to place acknowledgements at the bottom of questions.
The context for the above sentence is provided in the next section.
Question 1b: What is the justification for choosing anaphoric or cataphoric? Same for selecting the antecedent/postcedent?
Question 1c: Is there any justification for choosing anaphoric with antecedent = "the community"?
Question #2: (Cognitive blindness due to unconscious parsing): There was an amazing (awesome, very interesting) misunderstanding between myself and another person (very well respected by me and the community on ell.se). I think there is a kind of cognitive blindness that occurs when people parse sentences different ways. We stick to our initial, unconscious cognitive parse which can prevent us from seeing other options. Is there a name for this? (See "Important Info" section, below.)
Note: Instead of EL&U, I thought linguistics would be a more appropriate forum for this question due (at least in part) to the cognitive issues. (I've just recently started exploring the fascinating Art & Science of Linguistics.)
THIS SECTION CONTAINS THE TARGET SENTENCE IN CONTEXT
On ell.stackexchange.com, I made an edit to the question "Is this sentence correct?". (And no, the sentence was not.) The OP thanked me by writing at the top of the question, "Credit to CoolHandLouis for edit help!" To make the acknowledgement less conspicuous (and to save me some embarrassment), I moved it to the bottom. The next day, a website that reports on writing style (www.AcmeStyleReports.com) posted an analysis of my "top to bottom" edit of the acknowledgement:
"The style used for acknowledgements can vary, depending on formality, precedents, and community-accepted norms. Consider the question on ell.se "Is this sentence correct?". An edit was made to move an acknowledgement from the top to the bottom.
It can be argued that this was stylistically appropriate. On ell.se, the community has a tradition of putting acknowledgements at the end of questions. It was clearly in the mood to place acknowledgements at the bottom of questions."
The above is the entire context text. It's entirely fictional. (There is no such report and no tradition to put acknowledgements at the bottom.)
This question is very closely related to the ell.se question, What role does this it take?
Question 1, Option 1 (Anaphoric):
IT = "The community"
** The selected-as-correct opinion was that "It" is a simple pronoun referring to "the community". (It was "the Mafia" in What role does this it take?) The "mental parsing" is as follows:
"The community was clearly in the mood to place acknowledgements at the bottom of questions."
Question 1, Option 2 (Cataphoric):
IT = "to place acknowledgements at the bottom of the questions"
** This is called "Anticipatory It". In my "mental parsing", semantic information was dropped:
"It was clearly in the mood [of the writing style on ell.se] to place acknowledgements at the bottom of questions."
"It was clearly in the mood [of the community] to place acknowledgements at the bottom of questions."
Question 1, Option 3:
"IT" = Whatever else you may think about the role of "it".
Question 2. Cognitive Blindness: Because of my mental parsing, I thought the selected-as-correct answer, "The Mafia", was an absurd "opinion" that utterly lacked any grammatical sense. I was blind! I did not and could not see "It" as a simple pronoun. Another very well-respected member could not see my "Anticipatory It" as having anything to do with this, because he only saw the simple pronoun construct. After a little debate in comments, we both had an "aha" realization of what we were each missing.