Deixis and deictic oppositions in discourse: Evidence from Romani

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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 pages36
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study draws on an earlier discus,';ion of deixis in Romani presented in Matras 1994, Chapter 3. The data were obtained in Germany in 1990-1992 among speakers of a Keldera~/Lovari contact variety, most of whom are second generation immigrants from Poland, and trilingual in Romani, German, and Polish. The data collection was suppom.'d by grants from the Hamburg University and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Earlier version:~ of this paper were presented in Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Naples. I am grateful to M. Bolkestein, K. Btihrig, W. GrieBhaber, M. Hartung, G. Reershemius, J. Rehbein, G. Sch6n, J. C. Smith, and L. de Vries for comments and discussions about the data and theoretical issues. All shortcomings are of course my own responsibility. * Phone: +44 161 275-3975; Fax: +44 161 275 3187; E-maih

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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