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This and That (was: Re: Adjectives, Particles, and This...)

From:J Matthew Pearson <pearson@...>
Date:Thursday, January 18, 2001, 20:09
Yoon Ha Lee wrote:

> On Wed, 17 Jan 2001, H. S. Teoh wrote: > > > It seems that most languages have only two distictions. Three-way > > distinctions such as in Greek seem to be more rare. Are there any natlangs > > with only one demonstrative? Just curious :-) > > Korean has a three-way distinction (near the listener, near the speaker, > distant from both). And _Pacific Languages_ talks about languages with > multiple distinctions, apparently including some languages that make > distinctions between vertical and horizontal distances being considered, > or did I read that somewhere else?
Malagasy has a fourteen-way distinction, based on distance from speaker, contrast, and visibility. Although four of the demonstratives are not much used, the remaining ten are widely attested. It's not completely clear how these demonstratives are used (speaker judgements vary, and are not easy to evaluate), but here's an approximate characterization, based on some work done by a grad student colleague of mine: Visible Invisible ety aty in physical contact with speaker eto ato quite close to speaker, but not touching eo ao within the 'immediate domain' of speaker eny any outside the 'immediate domain' of speaker ery ary very far away from speaker (The notion of 'immediate domain' is intuitively defined, and thus varies with context. Depending on the situation, the immediate domain of the speaker could be the space immediately surrounding the speaker--as opposed to the space occupied by the addressee--or the room/building in which the speaker is sitting, the village in which the speaker lives, etc.) For example, to translate "The book is (t)here", one would use _ety_ if the book were in the speaker's hand, _eo_ if the book were on a table next to the speaker, _ao_ if the book were inside a box on the table, _any_ if the book were outside in the garden, and _ary_ if the book were in another city or country. Some of these forms have acquired a somewhat conventionalized usage. For example, _ao_ is generally used when something is inside something else, regardless of how far away it is from the speaker (I usually translate _ao_ as "in here/in there"). Also, _any_ is generally used with place names, even if the place named is very far away from the speaker (e.g., _any Parisy_ "there in Paris"). I must confess I'm not sure what _aty_ (touching speaker but invisible) and _ery_ (extremely far away but visible) would be used for. Perhaps _aty_ is used for internal organs, while _ery_ is used for stars? :-) Matt.