Saturday, 27 July 2013

Reference: Origins In Deixis

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 551):
… it seems likely that reference first evolved as a means of linking ‘outwards’  to some entity in the environment.  So, for example, the concept of ‘he’ probably originated as ‘that man over there’ — a reference to a person in the field of perception shared by speaker and listener.  In other words, we may postulate an imaginary stage in the evolution of language when the basic referential category of person was deictic in the strict sense, ‘to be interpreted by reference to the situation here and now’.  Thus I was ‘the one speaking’; you, ‘the one(s) spoken to’; he, she, it, they were the third party, ‘the other(s) in the situation’.