Semantics of Deictic Expressions: Introducing a Cognitive-Discoursal Model of Reference

Document Type : Research Paper


Associate Professor of Department of Linguistics, Ardabil Branch, Islamic Azad University, Ardabil, Iran


Deictic expressions belong to a category of linguistic expressions which seemingly require an extra-linguistic context for their referents to be recognized. They have referential, anaphoric and free functions. The aim of the present article is to answer a key question about these expressions: is it possible to offer one single explanation or model for all these functions? To do this, the paper first refers to the main perspectives and analyses suggested on the semantics of deictic expressions and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each. It is shown that the major flaw in these analyses is their inadequacy in covering all uses of deictic expressions. Then, to solve the problem, a cognitive-discoursal model is proposed based on a concept called "discourse referent". It removes the borders between referential, anaphoric and free functions of those expressions. It is concluded that it is the introduction of these referents to the discourse and their establishment in the discourse that makes them referable by using deictic expressions.


Volume 6, Issue 2
January 2016
Pages 81-99
  • Receive Date: 20 July 2015
  • Revise Date: 21 January 2016
  • Accept Date: 01 February 2016
  • First Publish Date: 01 February 2016