Desktop version

Home arrow Sociology arrow Discourse interpretation : approaches and applications

Deictic markers

The restriction of lexical meaning boundaries, if compared with regular meaningful units, is a feature of adverbs of degree, pragmatic idioms and deictic language means. They lay special emphasis upon pragmatics, while bringing time and place of communication, speakers, objects and phenomena in the limelight.

The pragmatic nature of deictic word usage reveals the act of reference corresponding to the intention conveyed. They consider the recipient’s knowledge as well as the communicative situation in general. This phenomenon is caused by:

- ostensive indication following deictic words in an utterance, as in:

“Dreadful pain here,” and he placed his hand on his right side (J. Galsworthy)

- modal value and evaluation of deictic words in an utterance, as in:

He noticed two or three silver threads in her amber-coloured hair, strange hair with those dark eyes of hers, and that creamy-pale face (J. Galsworthy)

The pragmatic purpose of any communicative act determines the additional peripheral functions of deictic words in discourse. Overall, they can acquire such meanings due to the fact that they express the speaker’s/writer’s point of view or opinion as for time, space and the “I” image, which actually causes their compositional function in discourse.

The demonstrative function of deictic words ensures indication of a referent identified by the communicative situation. In other words, the demonstrative aspect introduces additional information in the context, indicating the previous or subsequent name of a referent or characteristic features. The usage of deictic words for focusing is impossible without any context or communicative situation, since these words provide implications of naming without any direct correlate in the utterance. Thus, when used with units of parametric semantics, they express a high degree of quality, especially in emphatic utterances: Did you think he would pick up as quick as this, Miss Porter (T. Williams); I must have gone down four or fine times that morning, I was that worried (J. Fowles); No, I don’t want to read it if she feels that strongly about it (T. Williams).

Besides, deictic words, while performing a demonstrative function, introduce subjective and modal components in the utterance. They indicate that qualities or characteristics under consideration are known to the speakers. Their names though individualized in the context or communicative situation need no additional identification. In most cases this adds negative connotation:

this Miss Barlow, that Dr. Manson.

Deixis is an indication of a certain reference point, i.e. the centre of coordination against which a certain object, person, act or event of the real world are characterized. Both subjective and objective orientations are possible. Therefore, deixis provides indication of something visible, existing in the speaker’s/writer’s view and something out of their current perception but present in their mutual experience or specific act of communication. Thus, it is proposed to define deictic meaning as a combination of pragmatic components of the word’s semantics correlated with individual, space and time orientation of the denotatum in a communicative situation. In contrast, one can pinpoint the following characteristics of deictic words, which are important for their functioning in the utterance: 1) situational nature (semantic dependence upon the communicative act, without which their meaning is blurred and unclear); 2) egocentrism (constant relation to the subject of an utterance); 3) subjective nature (correlation of reality with the speaker) (Kravchenko 1992).

From the point of view of situational nature and egocentrism as well as subjective nature, we can distinguish individual, space and time reference. All these aspects participate in the transfer of pragmatic aspect of language units in discourse with the purpose of focusing information rendered.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >

Related topics