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 “Deixis” means “Pointing” via language. Any linguistic
form used to achieve this “Pointing” is called a Deictic
expression or “Indexicals”. If you notice a strange
object and ask “What’s that?”, you are using a deictic
 Deixis signals a referent and it relates that referent
to a common ground shared by the speaker and
the addressee. Typical deictic include this, that,
here, and now. All of these words have the ability
to situate the speaker and hearer in relation to one
another and to the world around them.
 Within linguistic view, deixis refers to the
phenomenon wherein understanding the meaning of
certain words and phrases in an utterance requires
contextual information. Words are deictic if their
semantic meaning is fixed but their denotational
meaning varies depending on time and/or place.
Words or phrases that require contextual information
to convey any meaning – for example,
English pronouns – are deictic.
 Deixis is reference by means of an expression whose
interpretation is relative to the context of the utterance, such as
who is speaking
the time or place of speaking
the gestures of the speaker
the current location in the discourse
The topic of the discourse
 Near speaker  proximal terms ( this, here,
 Away from speaker  distal terms (that, there,
 The example 1- from CBS (American) Evening News broadcast.
1. The Americans arrested three suspects, but they met many enemies
2. When our soldiers shot back, the gunmen hiding in these houses
 “Here” (line 1) and “these” (line 2) are two deictic words.
 These lines are a voice-over accompanying the video of the
attacked village. Listeners and viewers know that “here” does
not mean in their own living room, although that is the
point from which the television sound comes from, but
that “here” refers to a location proximal to the speaker.
In the same manner, “these houses” is understood to
refer to the houses in the video broadcast.
The example 2
1. 1. But it’s clear the situation here could grow far
 worse
 2. before the U.S. even has a chance to win it.
In this case, “here” is equivalent to “here in Iraq” or
possibly “here in Baghdad” due to the context of the
previous few sentences, in which the reporter interviews
a U.S. general regarding the current situation on the
ground. It is clear to all involved that “here” does not
mean “here the area that can be seen on the screen
around the me [the reporter].”
Kinds of Deixis
 1. Person Deixis (me, you)
 2. Spatial Deixis (here, there)
 3. Temporal deixis (now, then)
Person Deixis
 Person
 Person deixis dealing with the grammatical
persons within an utterance, (1) those directly
involved (e.g. the speaker, the addressee), (2) those not
directly involved (e.g. over hearers—those who hear
the utterance but who are not being directly
addressed), and (3) those mentioned in the utterance.
 In English, the distinctions are generally indicated by
pronouns. The following examples show how. (The
person deictic terms are in italics)
 I am going to the movies.
 Would you like to have dinner?
 They tried to hurt me, but he came to the rescue.
Unique instances
 1. Would his highness like some coffee?
 This ironic or humorous phrase “His highness” refers
to an occurrence when one person, who’s very busy in
the kitchen, addresses another, who’s being very lazy
to help the others.
 2. Somebody didn’t clean up after himself.
 This is a potential accusation that there is someone
who violate the rules since each person has to clean up
after him or herself.
Spatial Deixis
 Spatial /Place deixis, also known as space deixis,
related to the spatial locations relevant to an
utterance. Similarly to person deixis, the locations may
be either those of the speaker and addressee or those
of persons or objects being referred to. The most
famous English examples are
the adverbs “here” and “there” and
the demonstratives “this” and “that”.
 Some examples:
 I enjoy living in this city.
 Here is where we will place the statue.
 She was sitting over there.
 Unless otherwise specified, Spatial deictic terms are
generally understood to be relative to the location of
the speaker, as in
 The shop is across the street.
 Here / There
 This / That
 They indicate distance or proximity from the
 Physical distance or proximity
 Mental and psychological distance or proximity
(Ex. deictic projection in the direct speech)
Q.S 21.Anbiya 63
Unique examples
 1. I am not here now.
 This can be semantically illogical but pragmatically it
can be true since it’s an utterance recorded on phone
answering machine. The word “now” refers to any time
someone tries to call me, and not to when I actually
record the words.
 2. I was looking at this little puppy in a cage with such
a sad look oh her face. It was like, “Oh, I’m so unhappy
here, will you set me free?”
 This is an utterance of someone who visit to a pet store
and he is looking for his lost pet. The word “here” of
the cage is not the actual physical location of the
person uttering the words (the speaker), but is instead
of the location of that person performing in the role of
the puppy. Do you remember Ace ventura in Pet
detective the movie?
Temporal Deixis
 Time
 Time, or temporal, deixis concerns itself with the
various times involved in and referred to in an
utterance. This includes time adverbs like "now",
"then", "soon", and so forth, and also different tenses.
 Now proximal
 Then distal (both past and future)
 Temporal events that move toward us (into
view)  this weekend
 Temporal events that move away from us (out
of view)
 Choice of the verb tense
 Present – proximal form
 Past – distal form, not only in time but also
because unlikely or impossible: Ex: If I had a
 The distal forms of temporal deixis are used to
communicate not only distance from current time
but also distance from current reality or facts.
Social Deixis
 Social deixis concerns the social information that is encoded
within various expressions, such as relative social status and
familiarity. Two major forms of it are the so-called T-V
distinctions and honorifics.
 T-V distinction
 T-V distinctions, named for the Latin “tu” and “vos” (singular
and plural versions of “you”) are the name given to the
phenomenon when a language has two different second-person
pronouns. The varying usage of these pronouns indicates
something about formality, familiarity, and/or solidarity between
the interactants. So, for example, the T form might be used when
speaking to a friend or social equal, whereas the V form would be
used speaking to a stranger or social superior. This phenomenon
is common in European languages.[6]
 Exophoric dexis: person, spatial and temporal deixis
 (External factor)
 Endophoric deixis: anaphoric and cataphoric deixis.
 (internal factor)
Anaphora (Anaphoric reference)
 In most of our talk and writing, we have to keep track
of who or what we are talking about for more than one
sentence at a time, we use anaphoric reference.
 A: Can I borrow your dictionary?
B: Yean, it’s on the table.
 Here, word it refers back to the word dictionary. The
previous word dictionary is called the antecedent ,
and the second word it is called the anaphor or
anaphoric expression.
Anaphor and antecedent
 In English, initial reference,, or introductory mention, is
often indefinite (a man, a woman, a cat). In the example
the definite noun phrases (the man, the cat, the woman)
and the pronouns (it, he, her, they) are examples of
subsequent reference to already introduced referents,
generally known as anaphoric reference, or anaphora. In
technical terms, the second or subsequent expression is the
anaphor and the initial expression is the antecedent.
 Cataphora: I turned the corner and almost stepped on
 What’s “it” here is not clear. It can be anything in the
mind of the hearer if the speaker doesn’t tell the hearer
about it.