Essay on Deixis

Topics: Deixis, Grammatical person, Pragmatics Pages: 5 (1588 words) Published: December 17, 2011

1. Introduction
This essay is going to analyse one of the principal topics when dealing with textual and discourse linguistics. This outstanding theme is deixis. In the following sections, deixis will be defined, classified, described and exemplified. In the last part, and after having studied all these points, there will be a conclusion and a bibliography which has been of great help in order to do this paper.

2. What is deixis?
Deixis is a phenomenon of great importance for the interpretation of utterances. It is noticeable in the following examples. If a person does not know when a message was composed, the receiver of it will not know when the action will happen, such as in I’ll be back in an hour. Another example is Meet me here a week from now. In this case, the addressee of the message does not know who he has to meet, neither where nor when. What the essay tries to say with this is that there is a term, called context of utterance which is essential for communication to take place completely. Bearing this idea in mind, deixis can be defined as a phenomenon in which the relationship between language and context is reflected in the structures of a language. This term comes from Greek, and means ‘pointing’ or ‘indicating’. Any linguistic form used to accomplish this ‘pointing’ is called deictic expression, also known as indexical. Some examples are I’m reading your message now or What’s that? As it can be observed, the deictic expression can be a pronoun, a demonstrative, or a special time or place adverb. Apart from this, it has to be known that there are two main usages of deixis. On the one hand, gestural deixis appears when an object is pointed at and referred to as this or that, or direction of gaze, tone of voice… For instance: I broke this finger. On the other hand, symbolic deixis requires generally only basic spatio-temporal knowledge of the utterance, such as: I love this city.

3. Types of deixis
With regard to types of deixis, it has to be pointed out that there are several distinctions depending on the linguists. The more traditional types are person deixis, time deixis and place deixis. But, according to Fillmore and Lyons, there are two new types which must be included with the previous ones. These more recent types are discourse deixis and social deixis. The following sections of the paper are going to study them a bit more deeply.

3.1. Traditional types of deixis
As it has been mentioned above, there are three traditional types of deixis. These are person deixis, time deixis and place deixis.

3.1.1. Person deixis
Person deixis concerns with the grammatical persons involved in an utterance. These participants are as follow. Firstly, it is found those directly involved in the act of communication (the speaker and the addressee). Secondly, there are those no directly involved on it (over hearers). And thirdly, those mentioned in the utterance. In English, these distinctions are generally indicated by pronouns, as the following examples show: I am going to the cinema; they tried to hurt me, but he came to the rescue; Would you like to have dinner? 3.1.2. Time deixis

Time, or temporal, deixis concerns with the various times involved in and referred to in an utterance. Some examples are now, then, soon, the use of different verb tenses… Time adverbs can be relative to the time. This time can be of two types. Encoding time, when an utterance is made. Or decoding time, when an utterance is heard. For example: It is raining now, but hope when you read this it will be sunny; He told me: “I will be there tomorrow” 3.1.3. Place deixis

Place deixis, also known as space deixis, concerns itself with the spatial locations relevant to an utterance. Similarly to person deixis, the locations may be either those of the speaker and the addressee or those of people or objects being referred to. The most outstanding English examples are the adverbs here/there and the...
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