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What do Swedish demonstratives encode? : A study of exophoric demonstrative preferences

Author

Summary, in English

Swedish exophoric demonstratives have often been seen as words that encode distance-based concepts. Based on the studies of demonstrative systems of several other languages the view of demonstratives as distance-oriented has recently been put into question. Thus, this study aims to investigate the spatiality involved in the semantics of demonstratives. Specifically, the study explores Swedish two-way contrasting demonstrative forms with the help of the David Wilkins Demonstrative Questionnaire (DWDQ). The preferences of demonstrative form usage for 7 participants in 25 scenarios with different contextual cues were gathered. From this data, it was concluded that the distance-oriented view of demonstratives does not satisfactorily explain the preferences of the participants. It is abductively argued, evidenced by the data, that demonstratives could encode that the referent is immediately operational (or not) relative to a speaker, meaning simply that the referent is part of a speaker’s activities at the time of utterance of a demonstrative form. Thus, this paper calls into question the idea that Swedish demonstratives merely encode proximity and distality. The overarching implication is that there is a great deal more to learn about exophoric demonstratives cross-linguistically, even for languages we conventionally assumed have demonstratives that encode distance-based or spatial concepts.

Summary, in English

Swedish exophoric demonstratives have often been seen as words that encode distance-based concepts. Based on the studies of demonstrative systems of several other languages the view of demonstratives as distance-oriented has recently been put into question. Thus, this study aims to investigate the spatiality involved in the semantics of demonstratives. Specifically, the study explores Swedish two-way contrasting demonstrative forms with the help of the David Wilkins Demonstrative Questionnaire (DWDQ). The preferences of demonstrative form usage for 7 participants in 25 scenarios with different contextual cues were gathered. From this data, it was concluded that the distance-oriented view of demonstratives does not satisfactorily explain the preferences of the participants. It is abductively argued, evidenced by the data, that demonstratives could encode that the referent is immediately operational (or not) relative to a speaker, meaning simply that the referent is part of a speaker’s activities at the time of utterance of a demonstrative form. Thus, this paper calls into question the idea that Swedish demonstratives merely encode proximity and distality. The overarching implication is that there is a great deal more to learn about exophoric demonstratives cross-linguistically, even for languages we conventionally assumed have demonstratives that encode distance-based or spatial concepts.

Publishing year

2021

Language

English

Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree

Topic

  • Languages and Literatures

Keywords

  • Swedish demonstratives
  • den här
  • den där
  • semantics of demonstratives
  • semantic analysis of demonstratives
  • David Wilkins demonstrative questionnaire

Supervisor

  • Niclas Burenhult (Ph.D.)