Demonstratives as spatial deictics or something more? Evidence from Common Estonian and Võro

  • 1 Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics, University of Tartu, Jakobi 2, Tartu, Estonia
  • 2 Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 3 University of East Anglia, Norwich, England
  • 4 Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study, Delmenhorst, Germany
  • 5 Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics, University of Tartu, Jakobi, Estonia
Maria ReileORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1786-9426, Helen Plado
  • Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics, University of Tartu, Jakobi, Tartu, Estonia
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, Harmen B. Gudde
  • University of East Anglia, Norwich, England
  • Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study, Delmenhorst, Germany
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and Kenny R. Coventry

Abstract

There is debate regarding the extent to which egocentric distance versus a more interactional approach underpin the use of spatial demonstratives across languages. This study experimentally tested the influence of object distance from a speaker and two dynamic speech-situation related parameters – position of an interlocutor, and the one who placed the object referred to – on adnominal demonstrative pronoun choice in two very close kindred languages: Estonian and Võro. These languages are spoken in the same geographical region and are closely related yet have different demonstrative systems. Our results confirmed the influence of egocentric distance on the choice of adnominal demonstrative pronouns in both languages, but the influence of two more interactional factors was found only in Võro. These results highlight the importance of egocentric distance underlying the use of demonstratives in a spatial context but also show that languages that are even closely related vary in the extent to which additional parameters affect dedmonstrative choice.

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