What is deictics?

What Does deictics Mean

In order to discover the meaning of the deictic term, it is necessary, first of all, to know its etymological origin. In this case, we can state that it is a word that derives from the Greek, exactly from “deiktikós”, which can be translated as “demonstrative” or “proper to point out”.

The deictic adjective qualifies what is linked to deixis : the pointing to a linguistic expression, a time, a place or a person that is carried out using a grammatical element. It is also called deictic to this grammatical element that allows to specify the deixis.
Deictics, therefore, are terms whose meaning depends on the context , since it can only be known in terms of the speaker. Deixis always develops from a point of reference that depends on who is expressing it.

The interpretation of deictics is related to the communicative situation . The speaker has to show in some way what they refer to so that the interlocutor is in a position to contextualize their content .
In this sense, it must also be taken into account that the deixis can be of two types according to its dialing area. Thus, we come across the one outside the text, which establishes what is a reference to someone's spatial, temporal or personal context, and the one inside the text. In this case, it refers to specific aspects of the aforementioned text.
Take the phrase "We went there yesterday" as an example . The expression presents three deictics: “we” , “there” and “yesterday” . To understand the content, we must first know who "we" refers to . We also have to know where “there” is and even if the expression appears in a writing or we hear it in a recording, it is essential to find out when “yesterday” was . In contrast, other expressions without deictics present the information in such a way that no further references are needed to make their meaning understandable:"Juan Perez, Martin Lopez and Maria Gonzalez went to the Museum of Natural Sciences of San Jacinto on January 3, 2015" .
In addition to everything indicated, we cannot ignore that there are three fundamental types of deictics:

-The deictics of time, where adverbs of time are included. Examples are: today, tomorrow, yesterday ... A sentence with this kind of deictic would be: "My cousin will come home to sleep tomorrow," where the deictic would be tomorrow.

-The deictics of person, among which are the personal pronouns, the demonstrative and also the possessive pronouns. Examples are me, you, mine, that one ... A phrase to understand these other types would be the following: "You are his friend", where the deictics would be both you and his.

-The deictics of space, where adverbs of place are included, such as here, there, further away ... A phrase to understand this other class would be: "Manuel, take the book there", where the deictic would be there.

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