Blending, subjectivity and deixis: Evidence from English and Brazilian Portuguese

This paper takes a cognitive approach to person deixis through an analysis of English and Brazilian Portuguese first and second person singular personal pronouns. It is assumed that these deictic pronouns are organized as ‘radial categories' which include prototypical and less prototypical deictic terms. Following Marmaridou (2000), it is shown that prototypical deictic meanings build up a ground space structured by the deictic ICM.  In search of an explanatory approach to less prototypical deictic meanings, an analysis is presented that draws on the notion of conceptual blending.  More specifically, it is claimed that first person blended pronouns make explicit reference to the Speaker, but implicitly refer to the Hearer and/or other non-ground participants, whereas second person blended pronouns make explicit reference to the Hearer, but implicitly refer to the Speaker and/or other non-ground participants. The final section of the paper discusses the relations between non-prototypical deictic meanings and subjectivity.

Key words: deixis, personal pronouns, first person singular, second person singular, conceptual blending, subjectivity


Almeida, S. and Ferrari, L . (2012).Subjectivity, Intersubjectivity and  Epistemic Complementation Constructions. Online Proceedings of UK-CLA Meetings, vol. 1, pp. 110 - 127.

Anderson, S. and Keenan,E. (1985). Deixis. In T. Shopen (ed.), Language Typology and Syntactic Fieldwork ,vol. III. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  pp.259-308.

Dancygier and Sweetser (eds.).(2012).Viewpoint in language: a multimodal perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Diessel, H. (1999). Demonstratives: Form, Function, and Grammaticalization. [Typological Studies in Language 42]. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Fauconnier, G. (1997).Mappings in thought and language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fauconnier, G.  and Sweetser, E. (eds.). (1996). Spaces, Worlds and Grammar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Fauconnier, G and Turner, M. (2002). The way we think; conceptual blending and the mind's hidden complexities. New York: Basic Books.

Fauconnier, G.  and Turner, M.  (2003). Polysemy and Conceptual Blending. In B. Nerlich, V. Herman, Z. Todd and D. Clarke (eds.), Polysemy: Flexible Patterns of Meaning in Mind and Language. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter. pp.79-94.

Ferrari, L e Sweetser, E. (2012). Subjectivity and upwards projection in mental space structure. In Dancygier and Sweetser (eds.), Viewpoint in language: a multimodal perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 47-68.

Fillmore, Charles J. (1971). The Santa Cruz lectures on deixis. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Linguistics Club.

Hopper, P.  and Traugott, E. (1993). Grammaticalization. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Lakoff, G. (1987). Women, fire and dangerous things. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Langacker, Ronald W. (1987) Foundations of Cognitive Grammar, vol. 1: Theoretical Prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Langacker, R. (1990). Subjectification. Cognitive Linguistics 1, pp. 5-38.

Langacker, R. (1991). Foundations of cognitive grammar, vol. 2: Descriptive Application. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Lyons, John (1977). Semantics, vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Levinson, Stephen C.(1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Levinson, Stephen C. (2004). Deixis. In L. R. Horn, G. L. Ward (eds.), The Handbook  of Pragmatics, Blackwell Publishing.

Marmaridou, S. (2000). Pragmatic meaning and cognition. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Rubba, J. (1996). Alternate Grounds in the Interpretation of Deictic  Expressions. In G. Fauconnier and E. Sweetser (eds.), Spaces, Worlds and Grammar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 227-261.

Sanders, T.,  Sanders, J. and Sweetser, E. (2009). Causality, cognition and communication: A mental space analysis of subjectivity in causal connectives. In T. Sanders and E. Sweetser (eds.), Causal categories in discourse and cognition. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 19-60.

Sweetser, E. (2012). Introduction: viewpoint and perspective inlanguage and gesture, from the Ground down. In Dancygier and Sweetser (eds.),Viewpoint in language: a multimodal perspective.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.1-22.

Traugott, E. (1989). On the rise of epistemic meanings in English: An example of subjectification in semantic change, Language 57. pp. 33-65.

Traugott, E. (1995). Subjectification in grammaticalization. In D. Stein and S.Wright (eds.), Subjectivity and Subjectivisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 37-54.

Traugott, E.  and Dasher, R. (2002). Regularity in Semantic Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press


Download full text of the article as PDF