Words are like cups or forks or jumbo jets or carpet. The ontology of language is not to be separated out from general ontology. Fork
Theories of language have been betwitched by Platonic ontology.
The assumption that language is essentially about reference is just another manifestation of the Platonic ontological claim that the essence of a thing is found, not in itself, but in an independently existing Form.
We basically got over it in general ontology, but in popular versions of the philosophy of language we are still haunted by the Platonic ghost.
Words do not refer to things or anything.