3.1. Personal deixis


Personal deixis encodes the participants´ roles in a speech event and shows itself typically in personal and possessive pronouns (Fitzmaurice 2002, 36; Levinson 1983, 62).

With the pronoun I the speaker refers to himself and therewith introduces himself in the conversation. It is more complicated with the first plural personal pronoun we to be interpreted by the addressee. It is quite ambiguous as it can have three different meanings depending on the context.

On the one hand, the we could be a Royal We which is used mostly by monarchs representing as one person the whole nation. On the other hand, it could be an “exclusive we” or an “inclusive we(Yule 1996, 11). In the first case the speaker refers to himself and to one or several other persons excluding the addressee and in the latter case the speaker points to himself, the addressee and even possibly to one or several other persons (Bublitz 2001, 209; Grundy 2000, 27).

The second personal pronoun includes the addressee into the speech event and is shown in Early Modern English in the two personal pronouns thou and you . While thou always addresses one person directly, you is more ambiguous as it can refer to one person in a formal way or to several persons. In addition to it, you can have the meaning of the German impersonal pronoun man or the English one and cause confusion if people feel directly concerned when they were not intended to be (Grundy 2000, 24).

With regard to the third personal pronouns, he, she, it and they are in the majority of cases used anaphorically as they mostly refer to some persons or objects which were mentioned before (Grundy 2000, 27). Therewith they can refer either to animate or inanimate objects excluding the speaker and the addressee (Levinson 1983, 69). One can speak of a deictic use when the person pronoun is accompanied by a gesture or when the third person is used as a means of irony (Yule 1996, 11).

But personal deixis also shows in vocatives which are noun phrases directly referring to the addressee. This can happen in form of calls as in “Hey, Mountain, hey!” or in form of addresses as in “Sir, I am a poor friend of yours, that loves you” .

Let us recapitulate: