Sunday, December 29, 2019
Deictic Expression (Deixis) Definition and Examples
A deictic expressionÃ or deixisÃ is a word or phrase (such as this, that, these, those, now, then, here) that points to the time, place, or situation in which a speaker is speaking. Deixis is expressed in English by way of personal pronouns, demonstratives, adverbs, and tense.Ã The terms etymology comes from the Greek, meaning pointing or show, and its pronounced DIKE-tik.Ã It sounds more complicated than it really is, for sure.Ã For example, if you would ask a visiting exchange student, Have you been in this country long? the wordsÃ this countryÃ andÃ youÃ are the deictic expressions, as they refer to the country where the conversation happens and the person being addressed in the conversation, respectively. Types of Deictic Expressions Deictic expressions can be one of several types, referring to who, where, and when. Author Barry Blake explained in his book All About Language: Pronouns make up a system ofÃ personal deixis. All languages have a pronoun for the speaker (theÃ first person) and one for the addressee (theÃ second person). [Unlike English, some] languages lack aÃ third personÃ singular pronoun, so the absence of a form for I or you is interpreted as referring to a third person....Words likeÃ thisÃ andÃ thatÃ andÃ hereÃ andÃ thereÃ belong to a system ofÃ spatial deixis. TheÃ here/thereÃ distinction is also found in pairs of verbs such asÃ come/goÃ andÃ bring/take....There is alsoÃ temporal deixisÃ found in words likeÃ now, then, yesterday,Ã andÃ tomorrow, and in phrases such asÃ last monthÃ andÃ next year. (Oxford University Press, 2008) Common Frame of Reference Needed Without a common frame of reference between the speakers, the deixis on its own would be too vague to be understood, as illustrated in this example from Edward Finegan in Language: Its Structure and Use. Consider the following sentence addressed to a waiter by a restaurant customer while pointing to items on a menu:Ã I want this dish, this dish, and this dish.Ã To interpret thisÃ utterance, the waiter must have information about whoÃ IÃ refersÃ to, about the time at which the utterance is produced, and about what the threeÃ noun phrasesÃ this dishÃ refer to. (5th ed. Thomson, 2008) When people are together in conversation, its easy to use deictics as a shorthand because of the common context between those presentÃ¢â¬âthough those present dont actually have to be in the same location at the same time, just understand the context. In the case of movies and literature, the viewer or reader has enough context to understand the deictic expressions that the characters use in their dialogue.Ã Take this famous line from 1942s Casablanca uttered by Humphrey Bogart, playing character Rick Blaine, and note the deictic parts (in italics):Ã DontÃ youÃ sometimes wonder if its worth allÃ this? I mean whatÃ youre fighting for. If you someone walks in the room and hears only this one line out of context, its difficult to understand; background is needed for the pronouns. Those viewers whove been watching the movie from the start, though, understand that Blaine is speaking with Victor Laszlo, the leader of a resistance movement and famous Jew who escaped the NazisÃ¢â¬âas well as Ilsas husband, the woman Blaine is falling for in the flick. Entrenched viewers can follow along without further details because they have the context for the sentence spoken.