Deixis and deictic oppositions in discourse: Evidence from Romani

Yaron Matras

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Abstract

Studies of indexical devices differ in their analysis of 'textual' deixis, some advocating an overlap of deictic and anaphoric functions, while others argue in favor of a consistent form-function correlation. This 'grey area' of deixis is conventionalized in Romani, which has a complex four-term opposition system of demonstratives and place adverbs. Drawing on examples of natural discourse in the Kelderaš/Lovari dialect, I argue that deixis in Romani identifies the source of knowledge about the object of reference, distinguishing between extra-linguistic, perceptual reality of the speech situation, and intra-linguistic or conceptual reality established via the discourse context. A second opposition line is drawn between general and discrete objects of reference. The fact that situation and context-based mental representations are kept apart grammatically, strengthens the argument in favor of their analytical separation, as suggested in Functional Pragmatics, while the overall arrangement in Romani suggests that the distal/proximate opposition cannot always be considered as basic in a typological classification of deictic systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-428
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Volume29
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1998

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