LINGUIST List 3.149

Sat 15 Feb 1992

Sum: Deictic Iconicity

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  1. Martin Haase, deictic iconicity (summary)

Message 1: deictic iconicity (summary)

Date: Wed, 12 Feb 92 12:17:01 MEdeictic iconicity (summary)
From: Martin Haase <MHAASEDOSUNI1.bitnet>
Subject: deictic iconicity (summary)

I post this again, because it got truncated last time:

Thanks to all of you that answered my query about deictic iconicity (I
have added a list of contributors at the end of this summary). As you
remember, I started with the following hypothesis, concerning
demonstratives and local (deictic) adverbs:

"Typically, smaller or greater distance from the speaker/hearer
(the 'deictic point') is indicated by closer or more open vowels
respectively."

I got very much data supporting this hypothesis and some data against
(you will find the list of examples for both kinds of evidence below).
None of the data seems to disconfirm the following stricter version of
the iconicity principle:

"if the forms showing different degrees of deictic distance are
closely related phonologically (minimal pairs or near minimal pairs),
the vowels of the forms for smaller deictic distance are closer than
(or equal to) the vowels for greater deictic distance."

It goes without saying that the hypothesis does not hold for vowels
which fulfill other functions, albeit in the deictic form (e.g.
agreement, as in the case of Swahili classifier vowels).

For the case of equal vowels, Aaron Broadwell raised the interesting
point of tonal iconicity (in Zapotec). In the case of Latin, one may
think of consonantal iconicity. Both matters need further discussion.

If anybody has corrections to the presented material or further
evidence, please let me know. Of course, I'm especially anxious to get
disconfirming evidence for my stricter hypothesis. Furthermore,
Stavros Macrakis and I would like to know more about the difference
between _qui_ and _qua_ or _li_ and _la_ in Italian, and I am curious
about other semantic components getting mixed up with deictic meaning
(e.g. 'out of sight' or direction, as in Athabaskan). You can write to
me, and I shall send another summary to 'The Linguist'.

Martin Haase - mhaasedosuni1.bitnet
 (or internet:) mhaasedosuni1.rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.de

Appendix:

List of examples received:
(please check in a grammar or dictionary before quoting)

Conventions: DEM: demonstrative pronoun/adjective
 ADV: deictic place adverb
 H: high, L: low (tone)
 : schwa, T: dental fricative (Engl. th), ?: glottal stop
 I: high unrounded central vowel ('barred i'), E: open e
 KL: class marker (in noun class systems)
 PR: pronominal marker
 M: masculine, F: feminine, N: neuter, PL: plural

 Proximal Medial Distal

English DEM this/these that/those
 ADV here there

Basque DEM hon- hor- har-
 ADV hemen (hun-) hor han

French Suffix -ci -la
 ADV ici la

Modern Greek DEM aft- ekin-
 ADV (e)dho (e)ki

Santa Ana del ADV ree (HL-tone) ree (LH-tone)
Valle Zapotec

Turkish DEM bu shu o

Tagalog DEM ito iyan iyon
 ADV dito diyan do?on

Japanese DEM kore sore are
 ADV koko soko asoko

Wolof ART KL-i KL-a
 DEM KL-ii/-ile KL-ee/-ale
 ADV fi/fii/file fa/fee/fale

Amharic DEM yIh/yIcc(i) ya/yacc(i)
 M / F M / F
 ADV Izzih Izziya

Maringi DEM inye dunye anye

Tamil Prefix i- a-
 DEM inta anta
 ADV inge ange

Hungarian DEM ez az
 Prefix i- o-

Cantonese DEM ni (H) go (H)

Mandarin DEM zhe na (H>L)
 ADV zher nar

Panyjima ADV nyiya panha/pala ngunha/ngula

Martuthunira ADV nhii/yila ngunhu/ngula

Dutch DEM dit/deze dat/die
 N /M,F,PL N /M,F,PL
 ADV hier daar

Ndjuka DEM/ADV ya de/ape anda

Kpelle DEM ngi ti

Yatye DEM na'` mE

Tolomako DEM/ADV ka(ho) tuha keni

Sc. Gaelic DEM sinn seo siad
 (cardinalV-7-ish) (schwalike V)

Swahili DEM h-KL h-KL-o h-KL-le

Koyukon DEM gonh eeyet nghnh
-Athabaskan Prefix do- no- aa-/yoo-

Latin DEM ipse/hic iste ille

Portuguese DEM este esse aquele

Kirundi DEM PR-e PR-o PR-a

Sassarese DEM kulTu kussu kullu
(Sardic)

List of contributors:

Stavros Macrakis (Modern Greek, Turkish); Evan Antworth (Tagalog); Ignacio
Hualde (Basque); Dom Berducci (Japanese); Mike Gasser (Wolof, Amharic);
Martin Haspelmath; Jon Aske (Basque); David Powers (Maringi); Caroline
Wiltshire (Tamil); George Fowler (Hungarian); Stephen Matthews (Hungarian,
Cantonese, Mandarin); Alan Dench (Panyjima, Martuthunira, other Australian
lgs.); Eric Pederson (Tamil, Dravidian lgs.); Grant Malcolm (Dutch);
George Huttar (Ndjuka); Matthew Dryer; Herb Stahlke (Swahili, Kpelle,
Yatye); Jacques Guy (Tolomako, Sakao); David Adger (Scottish Gaelic); Min
(Chinese); "elc9j" (Swahili); Bert Peeters (French, Dutch, Gallo-Romance,
Latin); Mike Darnell; Aaron Broadwell (Santa Ana del Valle Zapotec); Helen
Coutsogeorgopoulos (Modern Greek); Melissa Axelrod (Koyukon Athabaskan);
Joyce Tang (Mandarin); Frank Brandon (Portuguese); Joseph Bigirumwami
(Kirundi); "JAREA" (Sassarese)
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