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ven. 17/11/2017 Séminaire DTT - Atelier Typologie sémantique
ISH - Salle André Frossard

Yokot'an (Chontal Mayan) spatial deixis: complex demonstrative words
Amanda Delgado Galvan
Leiden University

Deictic expressions are deeply rooted to place and time of speaking. As stated by Levinson (2004:97) 'deixis introduces subjective, attentional, intentional and, of course, context-dependent properties'. The contextual information is grammaticalized in categories which include person, space deixis and time deixis. In space deixis the speaker anchors a point in the speech event to express the location of the FIGURE according to different spatial-axes. In everyday ‘spatial talk’ several linguistic elements, such as demonstratives e.g. English this and that, here and there, are employed. Languages use different demonstrative systems when locating something in space, time or referring to something in the discourse defined grammatically. Moreover, demonstratives can be accompanied by a reference pointing gesture.

This talk is dedicated exclusively to the spatial deictic demonstrative system in Yokot'an (Chontal Maya), a highly endangered language of Mexico with 37,000 speakers with minimal intergenerational transmission. In this presentation, I follow Dixon's (2003:61) definition of demonstrative and apply it to the analysis of the demonstrative system of Yokot'an. I will show that the demonstratives are grammaticalized forms used by Yokot'an speakers to talk about the relative location of things and people at a time and place of speaking. Yokot'an has a two-term demonstrative system: Proximate (origo) and Distal (not-origo). These primary forms can appear as independent words like in example (1) or be part of a complex word as in (2). The latter is the most frequent form used.

U-x-e da.
'Here he goes.' (HS_SAT_58)

Wi-da alotoj-on=dok’o.
'We married here.' (CONV_PAU_14)

Furthermore, following Dixon's (2003:61) typology, I will show that Yokot’an has three types of demonstratives: nominal, local and manner. In addition I will illustrate demonstrative co-speech pointing gestures. Finally, I will discuss the source deictic morphemes ya’ ‘from there’ yo’ ‘from hither’ and how spatial information is encoded in questions in Yokot'an.

Dixon, Robert. 2003. Demonstratives: A cross-linguistic typology. Studies in Language. International Journal sponsored by the Foundation “Foundations of Language”, 27 (1), 61-112.
Levinson, Stephen. 2004. Deixis. In The handbook of pragmatics (pp. 97-121). Blackwell.



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