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Towards a typology of predicative demonstratives

  • Don Killian EMAIL logo
From the journal Linguistic Typology


Although there has been growing interest in the study of demonstratives, a number of demonstrative categories remain largely unexplored. This article addresses one gap, presenting a preliminary typological overview of predicative demonstratives, a type of demonstrative used primarily in non-verbal predication constructions. The morphosyntax of predicative demonstratives is first briefly examined, followed by a typological characterization based primarily on semantic and morphosyntactic grounds. Predicative demonstratives focus on the immediately surrounding spatial, temporal, or textual environment of the speech act, showing restrictions on occurring in negated clauses or questions. In terms of lexical categorization, predicative demonstratives most commonly find themselves in a small closed word class of non-verbal predicators. Four types of predicative demonstratives are proposed here: Presentatives, identifiers, localizers, and the rare copular demonstratives.

Corresponding author: Don Killian [dɑːn ˈkʰɪliɨ̞n], Department of Languages, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, E-mail:


I am grateful to Ksenia Shagal and Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm for help with glossing the Russian examples, Holger Dießel for help with understanding demonstratives, and all the researchers who helped me with their languages of expertise over the years. I am also grateful to Harald Hammarström for all his help with supplying linguistic material, without which this work would not have been possible. Funding for the research was provided in different periods by the Kone foundation and the Finnish cultural foundation, and their support is greatly appreciated. Finally, I am grateful for the the helpful comments on earlier drafts provided by Johanna Nichols, Angela Terrill, Diana Forker, Antti Laine, Stefan Savić, Bastian Persohn, and three anonymous reviewers. Any errors are my own.


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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (

Received: 2019-01-17
Accepted: 2021-02-06
Published Online: 2021-05-26
Published in Print: 2022-05-25

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