3.3. Local/Spatial deixis

Local/spatial deixis is expressed in place adverbials (e.g. left, behind, etc.) which indicate the speakerīs location during the speech event.

Consider the contexts of the following utterances. Can you explain why it is this house in the first case and that house in the second?

a) Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 2

Portia. Myself and what is mine to you and yours
Is now converted: but now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o'er myself: and even now, but now,
This house, these servants and this same myself
Are yours, my lord.

b) Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene 1

Sampson. A dog of the house of Montague moves me.
Gregory. To move is to stir; and to be valiant is to stand:
therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn'st away.
Sampson. A dog of that house shall move me to stand: I will
take the wall of any man or maid of Montague's.

Maybe you have noticed that place indexicals can reveal speakerīs distance from a location which is often accomplished by the use of the demonstratives this/these and that/those and place adverbials like here (proximal) and there (distal) (Fitzmaurice 2002, 36; Grundy 2000, 28). Thereby not only spatial distance or proximity can be expressed (like in The Merchant of Venice where the speaker is in the house he is talking about) but also emotional and social distance (like in Romeo and Juliet where the speaker is despising the house he is talking about) (Levinson 1983, 80-81).

In Early Modern English there was a much wider range of place indexicals which additionally distinguished between the speakerīs movement towards or away from a location. Today these place adverbials became quite archaic (Grundy 2000, 28;Yule 1996, 12-13).