|From:||Matt Pearson <mpearson@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, April 20, 1999, 17:21|
Belated reply to an old message...
Tim Smith wrote:
>>> Are there any natlangs that have more than 3 levels of deixis
>IIRC, Malagasy has a deictic system that distinguishes seven degrees of
>relative distance from the speaker, and also distinguishes whether something
>is visible or invisible to the speaker. Perhaps Matt Pearson, our resident
>Malagasyist, could clarify this?
Malagasy has fourteen deictic elements. These come in seven pairs, of
which one member of each pair is for invisible things, and one member is
for visible things. Speakers seem to disagree amongst each other as to
how many degrees of distance are represented by this system, but it's
almost certainly less than seven - perhaps five. Here are the forms,
together with rough descriptions of their meanings:
ety aty in contact with speaker
eto ato quite close to speaker
eo ao somewhere within the speaker's 'domain'
etsy atsy (same as eo/ao, but used contrastively)
eny any outside or away from speaker's 'domain'
eroa aroa (meaning unclear)
ery ary far away from speaker
Some of these deictics (like "eroa/aroa" and "etsy/atsy") are rarely
used, and probably don't form a part of the active vocabulary of many
speakers. Others are quite common. A couple have acquired a particular
lexicalised meaning which has partially bleached them of their deictic
quality - in particular, "ao" has been lexicalised to mean "inside"
or "in there", regardless of how close the object is to the speaker.
For the other deictic words, however, the major difference between
them appears to involve degree of distance from speaker. If I wanted
to say "The book is here", I would use "ety" if the book were in my
hand, "eto" if the book were sitting in front of me on the table, and
"eo" if the book were somewhere within my 'personal space', where
'personal space' is defined by the discourse context (e.g. could be
the same room as the speaker, the same part of the room as the speaker,
the same house or village as the speaker, etc.). If I wanted to say
"The book is there", I would use "ao" if it were just outside the
room, "any" or "eny" if it were outside my 'personal space' somewhere,
and "ary" if it were quite far away - e.g. in some other town/region/
country/part of the world, etc..
UCLA Linguistics Department
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1543