LINGUIST List 14.1281

Tue May 6 2003

Diss: Cognitive Science: Imai "Spatial Deixis"

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. shingoimai, Spatial Deixis

Message 1: Spatial Deixis

Date: Sun, 04 May 2003 21:57:14 +0000
From: shingoimai <>
Subject: Spatial Deixis

Institution: State University of New York at Buffalo
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Shingo Imai
Dissertation Title: Spatial Deixis

Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science

Dissertation Director 1: Leonard Talmy
Dissertation Director 2: David A. Zubin
Dissertation Director 3: Charles O. Frake

Dissertation Abstract: 

This dissertation investigates the semantics of spatial deixis from a
cross-linguistic point of view. Other researchers collected some
parameters in their typological studies of demonstratives. I have
expanded the language samples to more than 400 languages and added
additional parameters that have not been pointed out in previous
studies. The list provides an over view of parameters of deixis. The
goals of this study are i) to reveal parameters determining spatial
deictic usage in languages, ii) to compare parameters among languages,
and iii) to investigate parameter dominance. Various table-top tasks
were designed in order to collect data and were applied to 15

Major findings are as follows:

An anchor is the reference basis of deictics. The addressee anchor is
an important factor next to the indispensable speaker anchor. There
exist two different types in addressee-anchor systems. They are the
dual-anchor system and the addressee-isolated system. Terms in the
former indicate distance from the speaker as well as proximity to the
addressee, while terms in the latter indicate proximity to the

The [Invisibility] parameter is sub-categorized into
[invisible-remote], distance-sensitive [invisible-occlusion],
distance-neutral [invisible-occlusion], and [invisible-peripheral

[Motion] parameter is categorized into three types. The first type
encodes [motion] as well as a direction from the perspective of the
speaker. The second type denotes [motion] as well as distance from the
speaker. The last type denotes [motion] without referring to a
direction or distance. Malagasy's [motion] parameter covers
translocation, rotation, and oscillation. It also includes fictive

[Presentative] is divided into [directive], whose function is to draw
the attention of the addressee to a referent/region, and [offerative],
whose function is to hand over an object to the addressee. Contrary
to traditional descriptions of deictics based on relative distance,
the data indicate that the primary and universal parameter is the
speaker's [contact/control]. The speaker primarily demarcates space by
judging whether or not a referent/region is within his/her territory
or not. Whether the speaker can contact/control a referent/region is
the most influential factor in deciding the speaker's conceptual
territory in all languages.
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