Head of seminar: Irmy Schweiger (kinesiska)

 

Demonstratives are a group of expressions, which usually include certain pronouns, adjectives (including determiners) and adverbs. Demonstratives are in nature deictic, and it means that their denotational meaning is heavily dependent on context at the time of utterance. Among the various deictic expressions such as I (person deictics), and today (time deictics), they are regarded as space deictics. Being space deictics, demonstratives are considered to indicate the relative distance of the referent provided in the speech situation in relation to the deictic center, which is typically the speaker’s location at the time of the utterance.

Cross-linguistically, demonstratives are considered to be universal and they are often characterized in terms of the number of contrast indicted by this relative distance. For instance, Japanese demonstratives are said to have three-term system which distinguishes; i) proximal to speaker, indicated by ko, ii) proximal to addressee, indicated by so, and iii) distal (non proximal) to both speaker and addressee, indicated by a. On the other hand, a view on Finnish demonstratives varies; Finnish demonstratives are said to have either two-term system which distinguishes i) proximal to speaker, indicated by tämä, and ii) distal (non proximal) to speaker, indicated by tuo, or three-term system which distinguishes i) proximal to speaker, indicated by tämä, ii) proximal to addressee, indicated by se, and iii) non proximal to both speaker and addressee, indicated by tuo. (My cross-linguistic overview is based on the latter, the three-terms system, following a Finnish grammar VISK*). To classify Swedish demonstrative in terms of number of contrast indicated by the relative distance is also quite problematic. Swedish demonstratives are described to have a system of two-way contrast that distinguishes i) proximal to speaker, indicated by den här, and ii) distal to speaker, indicated by den där. At the same time, in Swedish, it is usually distinguished four different demonstrative pronouns den här, den där, denna, and den.

In the colloquium, I would like to review demonstratives, especially deictically used demonstratives in Japanese, Finnish and Swedish. It begins with a brief, general description of the forms, semantics and functions of demonstratives in each language. Then, the characteristics of their spatial deictic uses are discussed and compared.

*VISK = Iso Suomen Kielioppi – Finnish Grammar database: http://scripta.kotus.fi/visk/etusivu.php