Data_Sheet_1_Elevation as a Grammatical and Semantic Category of Demonstratives.PDF (173.89 kB)
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Data_Sheet_1_Elevation as a Grammatical and Semantic Category of Demonstratives.PDF

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posted on 30.07.2020, 04:46 authored by Diana Forker

In this paper I study semantic and pragmatic properties of elevational demonstratives by means of a typological investigation of 50 languages with elevational demonstratives from all across the globe. The four basic verticality values expressed by elevational demonstratives are UP, DOWN, LEVEL, and ACROSS. They can be ordered along the elevational hierarchy (UP/DOWN > LEVEL/ACROSS), which reflects cross-linguistic tendencies in the expression of these values by demonstratives. Elevational values are frequently co-expressed with distance-based meanings of demonstratives, and it is almost always distal demonstratives that express elevation, whereas medial or proximal demonstratives can lack elevational distinctions. This means that elevational demonstratives largely refer to areas outside the peripersonal sphere in a similar way as simple distal demonstratives. In the proximal domain, fine grained semantic distinctions such as those encoded by elevational demonstratives are superfluous since this domain is accessible to the interlocutors who in the default case of a normal conversation are located in close proximity to each other. I then discuss metaphorical extensions of elevational demonstratives to non-spatial uses such as temporal and social deixis. There are a few languages in which elevational demonstratives with the meaning UP express the temporal meaning future, whereas the DOWN demonstratives encode past. This finding is particularly interesting in view of the widely-debated use of Mandarin Chinese spatial terms ‘up’ for past events and ‘down’ for future events, which show the opposite metaphorical extension. I finally examine areal tendencies and potential correlations between elevational demonstratives and the geographical location of speech communities in mountainous areas such as the Himalayas, the Papuan Highlands and the Caucasus. I tentatively conclude that languages spoken in similar topographic environments do not tend to have similar systems of elevational demonstratives if they belong to different language families.

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