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An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: van der Auwera, Johan

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Contrasting contrastive demonstratives in Tiriyó and Lavukaleve

Sérgio Meira / Angela Terrill

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 43, Issue 6, Pages 1131–1152, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: 10.1515/ling.2005.43.6.1131, October 2005

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Published Online:


This article explores the contrastive function of demonstratives in two languages, Tiriyó (Cariban, northern Brazil) and Lavukaleve (Papuan isolate, Solomon Islands). The contrastive function has to a large extent been neglected in the theoretical literature on demonstrative functions, although preliminary investigations suggest that there are significant differences in demonstrative use in contrastive versus noncontrastive contexts. Tiriyó and Lavukaleve have what seem at first glance to be rather similar three-term demonstrative systems for exophoric deixis, with a proximal term, a distal term, and a middle term. However, under contrastive usage, significant differences between the two systems become apparent. In presenting an analysis of the contrastive use of demonstratives in these two languages, this article aims to show that the contrastive function is an important parameter of variation in demonstrative systems.

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