Demonstratives in spatial language and social interaction: An interdisciplinary review

Department of English, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Diessel, Holger;
School of Psychology, University of East Anglia
Coventry, Kenny R.

This paper offers a review of research on demonstratives from an interdisciplinary perspective. In particular, we consider the role of demonstratives in current research on language universals, language evolution, language acquisition, multimodal communication, signed language, language and perception, language in interaction, spatial imagery, and discourse processing. Traditionally, demonstratives are analyzed as a particular class of spatial deictics. Yet, a number of recent studies have argued that space is largely irrelevant to deixis and that demonstratives are primarily used for social and interactive purposes. Synthesizing findings in the literature, we conclude that demonstratives are a very special class of linguistic items that are foundational to both spatial and social aspects of language and cognition.


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License Holder: Copyright © 2020 Diessel and Coventry.

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This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.