3.5. Discourse deixis

Discourse or text deixis describes deictic expressions which point to prior or succeeding parts of the discourse (Kryk-Kastovsky 1995, 331). In other words: “words and phrases […] that indicate the relationship between an utterance and the prior discourse” (Levinson 1983, 87). For convenience one can define discourse deixis as some kind of commentary on the text or conversation by the speaker. Indexicals like “initial usages of but, therefore, in conclusion, […], actually, all in all, […]” etc. (Levinson 1983, 87) should help to structure the discourse and to range the current utterance in a chronological order.

As an illustration let us look at the following example from Shakespeare´s Taming of the Shrew, Act II, Scene 1:

Petruchio: Father, 'tis thus: yourself and all the world
That talk'd of her have talk'd amiss of her.
If she be curst, it is for policy,
For,she's not froward, but modest as the dove;
She is not hot, but temperate as the morn;
For patience she will prove a second Grissel,
And Roman Lucrece for her chastity.
And, to conclude, we have 'greed so well together
That upon Sunday is the wedding-day.

In this speech the speaker Petruchio is praising the very temperamental daughter Kate of a rich merchant. With to conclude he refers to the prior discourse, namely the enumeration of the girl´s positive properties, and therewith implies that his speech will come to an end. But be careful: it is not the words themselves but their occurrence in particular linguistic structures that makes them become deictic expressions of one sort or the other. As you have seen the indexical now is a time deictic expression but it can also be a discourse indexical. For instance it can be used to indicate a contrast between what was said before and what is to expect now (Fries 1994, 11-113).