While demonstratives typically signal aspects of the spatial configuration of speech act participants and objects in the speech situation, intersubjective parameters, such as the attentional state of the interlocutor, have recently gained importance in the analysis of such forms. Several systems have been described in which the use of certain forms is conditioned by shared vs. non-shared attention towards a referent. Phenomena of this kind have recently been considered under the notion of ‘engagement’, i.e. the expression of a speaker’s assumptions about the knowledge or attention of their interlocutor (Evans et al. 2018a, b).
The present study contributes to the ongoing investigation of engagement by a descriptive account of demonstratives in Kogi (Chibchan). It is argued that the use of certain (ad)nominal forms that were initially associated with addressee proximity cannot be accounted for in merely spatial terms. The paper proposes a novel analysis in terms of engagement and shows that the forms apply when a referent is in the attention of, or is known to both interlocutors. Evidence in support of this comes from elicited data as well as an interactive matching game in which attentional states of participants can be observed.
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© 2019 Dominique Knuchel, published by De Gruyter
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