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Deixis is the general phenomenon of the occurrence of
deictic words. Deictic word itself, in the book titled “Semantics: A
Coursebook” by Hurford, Heasley, and Smith (2007), is defined as a word which
meaning is taken from the context of situation in which it occurred. There are
five types of deixis according to Levinson (1983) such as person, place, time,
discourse, and social deixis. Levinson (1983) also proposes that there are two
different usages of deictic terms such as deictic and non-deictic. However, apparently
the application of types of deixis being used in English differs from other
languages (Al Aubali, 2015; Navaretta, 2007 and Vayasi & Salehnejad, 2016).
Therefore, this literature review aims to find out the way different types of
deixis are used differently in English and other languages.

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Al Aubali (2015) conducted a contrastive study to
examine the different usage of deixis in English and Arabic. In this study,
types of deixis being investigated are person, place, time, social and
discourse deixis. Findings of the study show that there are differences and
similarities of the use of types of deixis in English and Arabic. There are two
findings regarding person deixis. The first finding shows that while English
only has one form of second person deixis which is ‘you’, Arabic has five forms
namely ‘anta’, ‘anti’, ‘antuma’, ‘antum’, and ‘antuna’. The second finding is
that third person deixis, both in English and Arabic, is marked for gender,
number, and case. Regarding place deixis, the demonstrative pronouns
positioning in English differs from that in Arabic. In English, the
demonstrative determiner precedes the head, while in Arabic, demonstrative can
precede or follow the head. Regarding time deixis, both English and Arabic use
nouns, adverbs, particles and tenses to indicate time. Another finding shows
that in English, adverbs of time only play a supplementary role in determining
the tense indicating time, where as in Arabic they play an essential role.
Regarding social deixis, both English and Arabic rely on titles or kinship
terms to show social relationship between speakers and the addressees. Regarding
discourse deixis, findings indicate that in English, distal demonstrative
‘that’ is more commonly used to refer to a preceding part of discourse, whereas
in Arabic, the proximal demonstrative such as ‘hatha’ is more favored.


Vaysi and Salehnejad (2016) also conducted a study to
compare the use of types of deixis in different languages. However, unlike the
study conducted by Al Aubali (2015), this study investigation is restricted to
only two types of deixis which are spatial and temporal deixis. Using
descriptive-analytic method, this research aims to compare the use of spatial
and temporal deictic expressions in English and Persian. Results of the study
indicates that there are differences and similarities regarding the use of
spatial and temporal deixis in both languages. The first findings are on
spatial deixis. Both English and Persian have a two-term system to
differentiate distance of something from the speaker namely distal and
proximal. In order to refer to the location of things, both English and Persian
use demonstratives. However, the demonstratives in English and Persian are
different. In English, there are two-dimensional spatial deictic expressions,
proximal such as ‘this/here’ and distal such as ‘that/there’. On the other
hand, Persian has more deictic expressions to specify three dimensions. Persian
has three proximal such as /?in/ (this), /in?a/ (here) and /hæmin?a/
here), and three distal such as /?an/ (that), /an?a/ (there) and /hæman?a/ (exactly there). Both
English and Persian use verbs as spatial deixis. For instance, in English the
verbs motions are ‘come’ and ‘go’, and the Persian counterparts for those are /?amædæn/ and /ræftæn/. The second findings are regarding temporal deictic
expressions. Both English and Persian have words or phrases which are naturally
used as temporal deixis. In English, the words or phrases indicating time are ‘now’,
‘then’, ‘yesterday’, ‘today’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘last year’, etc. and the counterparts
of those in Persian are /hala/, /sepæs/, /diru:z/,
/færda/, /parsal/, /sal-e-?ajænde/.

Another study which compares the use of different types
of deixis is a study conducted by Navaretta (2007). Navaretta (2007) has conducted
a contrastive study on deixis in Danish, English and Italian. Similar to the
study by Vaysi and Salehnejad (2016), this study does not investigate the use
of all types of deixis. This study focuses only on one type of deixis which is pronominal
abstract anaphora or also known as discourse deixis. In comparing the use of abstract
anaphora in Danish, English and Italian, this research obtained its data from seven
Danish fairy tales (including their English and Italian translation versions)
and from 34 Italian fairy tales. The pronominal types being investigated in
this study are personal, demonstrative, and proximal demonstrative. Findings
from the analyzed data show that there are differences and similarities in the
way different types of pronoun are used as discourse deixis in Danish, English
and Italian despite having similar contexts and with the same kind of
antecedent. In Danish and English texts, abstract pronominal reference is more
frequently used than in the monolingual Italian texts. However, in the
translated Italian texts, abstract reference is equally frequently used as in
the original Danish texts. Another finding from this study shows that personal
pronouns as abstract referents are more frequently used in Danish and Italian
than in English.  Aside from the
findings, this study also gives insight that a more comprehensive and detailed
study on abstract referents in the three languages will be conducted to fill
what this study lacks.

Based on the results of the three studies (Al Aubali,
2015; Navaretta, 2007 and Vayasi & Salehnejad, 2016) conducted in comparing
the use of different types of deixis, we can conclude that different languages may
use deictic expressions differently.




Al Aubali, F. A.
(2015). Deixis in Arabic and English: A Contrastive approach. International
Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 4(4),

Hurford, J. R., Heasley,
B., & Smith, M. B. (2007). Semantics:
a coursebook. Cambridge University Press.

Levinson, S. C. (1983). Pragmatics (Cambridge
textbooks in linguistics).

Navarretta, C. (2007). A
contrastive analysis of abstract anaphora in Danish, English and Italian.
In Proceedings of DAARC (pp. 103-109).

Vaysi, E., &
Salehnejad, L. (2016). Spatial and Temporal Deixis in English and
Persian. International Journal of Humanities and Cultural Studies
(IJHCS)?, 3(1), 1405-1414.





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