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A Cognitive Study on the Subjectivity of Deixis

Author: LiJianHua
Tutor: LiJieHong
School: Harbin Institute of Technology
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: subjectivity deixis grounding mental space
CLC: H314
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 100
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Subjectivity, focus of the studies of many scholars all the time, is considered to be an inherent characteristic of language. As an important sub-system of language, the study of the subjectivity of deixis also catches people’s attention. The studies of the subjectivity of deixis in recent years are restricted to the theories of the subjectivity of language, and therefore neglect the practical characteristics of deixis. On the basis of the cognition mechanism of human beings, this thesis discusses the way speakers employ canonical perspective, the shift of perspective and the knowledge frame about the world in the process of using deixis to express their feelings, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs, that is, the way the subjectivity of deixis is reflected.As to canonical perspective, speakers build connections with circumstances by taking themselves as the center, and hence leave a mark of being subjective. It is quite obvious in the use of deixis. This thesis chooses for discussion some deictic expressions in canonical usage from the first season of the American sitcom Growing Pains, including person deixis, space deixis and time deixis, and finds that in these usages in order to describe things, speakers take their time and locations as reference point either overtly or covertly, putting the self either onstage or offstage.Because of the cognitive ability of perspective transfers of human beings, speakers always shift the center to other entities to show some special emotions, the reflection of which in deixis is deictic projection, covering shift between persons,“inappropriate”usage of vocatives, empathetic deixis, etc. This thesis selects some usual expressions from daily communication and analyzes how to shift perspective by building new spaces with the help of mental space theory. When speakers shift the center to other entities, they locate themselves in a new space and take a new perspective to express a different feeling and a more subjective thought. Therefore, it can be said deictic projection reveals more of the subjectivity of deixis.The subjective thought of speakers also reflects itself in the use of modal deixis in an explicit way. Speakers always judge the possibility of an event to happen by modal deixis, which is based on frame of accumulated knowledge about the world. The frame varies for every person. Therefore, the judgment is marked with ego and expresses a subjective thought. This thesis analyzes how modal deixis functions in the judgment on the possibilities based on some common expressions in daily life.With an analysis of canonical usage of deixis, deictic projection and modal deixis, this thesis discusses the specific manifestations of the subjectivity of deixis, which is helpful for speakers to know how to express their ideas and attitudes tactically by using the subjectivity of deixis, and reveals the nature of deixis.

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CLC: > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Grammar
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