GENGO KENKYU (Journal of the Linguistic Society of Japan)
Online ISSN : 2185-6710
Print ISSN : 0024-3914
Presidents' Inaugural Lectures
Deictic Systems of Space and Time
Tamotsu Koizumi
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2022 Volume Supplement.2 Pages 75-97


This paper presents systemizations of deictic systems for the linguistic expression of person, space, and time in various languages, primarily based on hierarchies of tests for the presence, absence or underspecification of features. Deixis of person is often defined according to specifications for the deictic center ([±Speaker]) and for the relationship to the communicative event ([±Participant]). Deixis of space, often expressed in demonstratives, can be defined within the dimension of person (as above) or by specifications for spatial distance (e.g., [±Near], [±Far]). Some languages employ combinations of these two dimensions to distinguish meanings of demonstratives. Deixis of time takes the “speaking present” ([±SP]) as its primary distinction. It is further proposed that specifications for the feature of “reality” account for the future ([–R]) and present ([+R]), where the past is neutral for “reality”: [±R]. Time is typically expressed according to either the orientation whereby time moves through space (e.g., the Japanese rai-rai syuu ‘come-come week’), or that whereby ego moves through time (e.g., the English week after next), systematizable as a specification of direction from the future to the past (moving-time type) or from the past to the future (moving-ego type).

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