Pronouns and deixis

Scott DeLancey delancey at DARKWING.UOREGON.EDU
Fri Sep 24 22:39:05 UTC 1999

On Wed, 22 Sep 1999, Wolfgang Schulze wrote:

> 	But what appears more problematic to me is the possible correlation
> between pronouns for Speech Act Participants (SAP) and deixis. At a
> first glance, this correlation seems very plausible: EGO (which becomes
> SAP(1) in communication) is embodied as 'inner', TU (> SAP(2)) is
> embodied as 'outer'. From this a deictic space is construed by the
> individual that correlates the speaker to the 'inner' space that is
> indexed by a proximal deixis whereas SAP(2) is correlated to a medial or
> distal (depending on the general way of how the deictic space is
> subcategorized/organized). EGO > SAP(1) becomes the communicative

I don't have the article to hand, but I remember this as being a main
point of Henri Frei, "Systemes de deictiques", in Acta Linguistica (1944).

> 	The most surpising thing - in my view - is that though the derivation
> of personal pronouns from deictic paradigms which would predict
> structures like 'I-here', 'you-there' etc. just in the some way as
> '(s)-here' etc. can be predicted) we only have weak evidence from
> typology that this correlation really forms the basis for the
> grammaticalization of EGO (> SAP(1), TI (>SAP(2) etc.

Quite true, and yes, quite disappointing--the parallellism I/you/3rd::
proximal/distal/far distal is *so* enticing.  Is it possible that one
reason we see so little evidence for deictic connections for 1st/2nd
pronouns, in contrast to the overwhelming evidence that distal or far
distal demonstratives are the ordinary source for 3rd person pronouns,
is simply that 1st and 2nd pronouns are diachronically very stable,
so we don't have sufficient data on where they come from when they
are renewed?

Scott DeLancey
Department of Linguistics
1290 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1290, USA

delancey at

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list