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Review of  Deictic Conceptualisation of Space, Time and Person

Reviewer: Zouhair Maalej
Book Title: Deictic Conceptualisation of Space, Time and Person
Book Author: Friedrich Lenz
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
Issue Number: 14.2209

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Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 00:53:48 -0700
From: Zouhair Maalej
Subject: Deictic Conceptualisation of Space, Time and Person

Lenz, Friedrich, ed. (2003) Deictic Conceptualisation of Space, Time
and Person, John Benjamins Publishing Company, Pragmatics & Beyond New
Series 112.

Zouhair Maalej, Department of English, University of Manouba-Tunis,


The book under review is an edited collection of eleven papers
distributed over the conceptualization of deixis as represented by
space, time, and pronouns.

PART I: Space

Sergio Meira: "Addressee effects" in demonstrative systems: The cases
of Tiriyo and Brazilian Portuguese (pp. 3-11): Working on two unrelated
languages, Meira argues against the distinction made between distance
and person-oriented systems of demonstratives, invoking the fact that
even distance-oriented systems are essentially person-oriented.

Konstanze Jungbluth: "Deictics in the conversational dyad: Findings in
Spanish and some cross-linguistic outlines (pp. 13-40): Rejecting the
distance and person-oriented systems for Spanish, Jungbluth offers a
dyad-oriented system for demonstratives as an alternative, involving
speaker and hearer.

Claudio Di Meola: "Non-deictic uses of the deictic motion verbs kommen
and gehen in German" (pp. 41-67): Di Meola describes non-deictic
unrestricted motional uses of kommen and restricted uses of gehen in
German. In its non-deictic use, kommen, for instance, has to do with
the (i) overcoming of an obstacle, (ii) accidental movement, and (iii)
passive movement, with the prepositional phrase of place or time
becoming mandatory. Di Meola mentions the inherent link between the
deictic and non-deictic uses of kommen and gehen as mediated through
metonymic extention.

Ellen Fricke: "Origo, pointing and conceptualization-What gestures
reveal about the nature of the origo in face-to-face interaction" (pp.
69-93): Fricke investigates the relevance of speech-associated gestures
to origo, which is differentiated into personal, local, and temporal.
The personal is further differentiated hierarchically into primary
(with the addresser) and secondary (with the addressee).


Christiane von Stutterheim, Mary Carroll, and Wolfgang Klein: "Two ways
of construing complex temporal structures" (pp. 97-133): von
Stutterheim et al investigate the way speakers of different languages
(here English and German) convey temporal information in the construal
of events. English and German were found to adopt different strategies
of retelling events that are basically amenable to the formal
linguistic features of the language in question.

Thomas A. Fritz: "'Look here, what I am saying!': Speaker deixis and
implicature as the basis of modality and future tense" (pp. 135-151):
Fritz explains modality and futurity by scalar implicature, which is
derived from "saying" or deictically the amount of factuality or
epistemic commitment to which speakers want to commit themselves.

Tanja Mortelmans: "The 'subjective' effects of negation and past
subjunctive on deontic modals: The case of German dürfen and sollen"
(pp. 153-182): Mortelmans argues for a speaker-oriented conception of
deontic modality, using negation and the past subjunctive as evidence.
Mortelmans defends the view that dürfen (may) is pragmatically reactive
and sollen (should?) is non- reactive.

PART III: Person and Text

Johannes Helmbrecht: "Politeness distinctions in second person
pronouns" (pp. 185-202): In a study of a hundred world languages,
Helmbrecht isolates four classes of honorific types: (i) languages
showing no politeness distinctions in their pronoun system, (ii)
languages showing a binary politeness distinction, (iii) languages
showing two or more politeness distinctions, and (iv) languages
avoiding the use of second person polite address. These types show
unequal geographic distribution, and are explained functionally and
cross- linguistically as being affected by contact-induced borrowing.

Katharina Kupfer: "Deictic use of demonstrative pronouns in the
Rigveda" (pp. 203-321): Through elaborate syntactic argumentation,
Kupfer presents a view of demonstratives as opaque deictic expressions
whose deictic center has to be created by addresser and addressee in
Rigveda, a collection of ancient Indian texts.

Manfred Consten: "Towards a unified model of domain-bound reference"
(pp. 223-248): Consten argues for a model of domain-bound reference
where deixis and anaphora interact and can be direct or indirect,
hoping that the two terms, deixis and anaphora, will not be part of the
vocabulary of cognitive linguistics.

Heiko Hausendorf: "Deixis and speech situation revisited" (pp. 249-
269): Hausendorf offers a view of speech situation as involving
participants in a mutually shared sensory perception in a socially and
interactionally constructed discourse. Using Jakobson's framework,
Hausendorf phrases his view as follows: deixis "operates at the
interface between code and message where sensory perception is required
as a channel of communication in its own right" (p. 264).


With very few exceptions, the papers making up this book are insightful
by shedding fresh cognitive light on the pragmatics of deixis. However,
some critical comments are in good order. Mortelmans mentions in her
paper that the concept of "projected reality" (p. 154) originates in
Langacker (1991) and Achard (1998). If we abstract from the use of
"world" instead of "reality", we find that we owe the distinction
between "real world" and "projected world" to Jackendoff (1985), who
acknowledges that the distinction is at least as old as Kant, although
for Mortelmans the "projected world" is part of irreality whereas for
Jackendoff (1985: 28) it is the "experienced world" or "phenomenal

Mortelmans also talks about the possibility of including negation as a
"modal deictic marker." Invoking Lehmann (1991) in a footnote as
arguing for the inclusion of negation as part of the modal system,
Mortelmans seems to consider Lehmann as being at the origin of this
idea. The author, however, might want to know that, in Halliday's
functional/systemic grammar (1985-1994), negation (as part of Polarity)
is called "a Modal Adjunct" (1994: 90) within the Mood System (in the
Hallidayian perspective, the clause as an exchange is divided into MOOD
and RESIDUE). If negation is definitely modal in essence, it is not
made clear by the author how it could have a deictic dimension.

The inclusion of Mortelmans's paper by the editor under the
conceptualization of time is not where a paper on modality and negation
should belong. In fact, Mortelmans hardly ever even alludes to time.

To end this review, some tentative conclusions can be made about some
of the findings arrived at in this volume:

(i) Many of the papers in the collection use Bühler's theory of
deixis and the origo, which either has the effect of rehabilitating his
work, or pointing out sources that passed over his theory, which
scientifically counts as important acknowledgment.

(ii) If, as Jungbluth found out, the Spanish demonstrative system can
refer to parts of the body with proximal, medial, and distal pronouns,
and is neither distance- nor person-oriented, the notion of deictic
center should be revised as being not only egocentric but also
hearercentric. A confirmation of this polycentric dimension of deixis
is what Fricke discusses as a hierarchy of primary and secondary
origos, and even more types of origos or centers.

(iii) As von Stutterheim et al demonstrate, formal language-specific
constraints can be invoked to explain differences in the construal of
events cross-linguistically, whereby grammaticization seems to play a
major role.


Achard, Michel (1998). Representation of Cognitive Structures: Syntax
and Semantics of French Sentential Complements. Berlin/New York: Mouton
de Gruyter.

Jackendoff, Ray (1985). Semantics and Cognition. Cambridge/London: The
MIT Press.

Langacker, Ronald W. (1991). Foundations of Cognitive Grammar (Vol.2).
Descriptive Application. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Lehmann, Christian (1991). "Startegien der Situationsperpektion."
Sprachwissenschaft 16, 1-26.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER The reviewer is an assistant professor of linguistics. His interests include cognitive linguistics, metaphor, cognitive pragmatics, psycholinguistics, critical discourse analysis, etc.