Distance Contrasts in Demonstratives (Feature 33)
Demonstratives are deictic expressions such as English this and that. Demonstratives indicate the relative distance of a referent in the speech situation vis-à-vis the deictic center (origo), roughly equivalent to the speaker’s location. When this and that are used contrastively, this denotes a referent in relative proximity to the deictic center and that denotes a referent at a greater distance, as in English This is my pen and that one is yours.
Demonstratives often derive from spatial adverbs and are sometimes difficult to distinguish from them. Among the criteria for the demonstrative status of such adverbs are the following:
– The demonstrative differs in shape from the spatial adverbs (French ici ‘here’ vs. cette femme-ci ‘this woman’)
– The spatial adverbs are the only available demonstratives in the language, as in Papiamentu, where ‘this house’ can only be rendered by e kas aki, lit.,the house here’; e kas without ki means ‘the house’ and not ‘this house’, although the Papiamentu definite article derives diachronically from a demonstrative.
– The combination of the demonstrative and the adverb is obligatory, i.e. if in a given language only this house here may be used, but not *this house.
If pronominal and adnominal demonstratives behave differently (see Feature 32), adnominal demonstratives should be taken as criterial.
Note that this feature is only concerned with the number of distance contrasts and not other categories encoded by demonstratives, as e.g. visible vs. out-of-sight, uphill vs. downhill or higher vs. lower elevation. Therefore, if a language employs two demonstratives for proximal and distal referents and a third demonstrative for referents out-of-sight, then it should be classified as a two-term language.
|1||No distance contrast|| Seychelles Creolesa lakaz ‘this house’ or |
|2||Two-way contrast||Principense ningê sê [person this] , ’this person’ vs. ningê ixila [person that] ‘that person’.|
|3||Three-way contrast|| Papiamentu ehòmber aki ‘this man’ (near origo, lit. the man here), e hòmber ei ‘that man’ (away from origo, lit. the man there), e hòmber aya ‘that man over there’ (far away from origo, lit. ,the man over there’).|
|4||Four-way contrast||Hausa nân 'near speaker', nan 'near hearer', cân 'away from speaker and hearer', can 'far away from speaker and hearer'|
|5||Five (or more)-way contrast||Malagasy itý 'near speaker', io 'near hearer', iny 'close', iroa 'away', itsy 'far away'|