Demonstratives in spatial language and social interaction: An interdisciplinary review

Holger Diessel, Kenny R. Coventry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper offers a review of research on demonstratives from an interdisciplinary perspective. In particular, we consider the role of demonstratives in current research on language universals, language evolution, language acquisition, multimodal communication, signed language, language and perception, language in interaction, spatial imagery, and discourse processing. Traditionally, demonstratives are analyzed as a particular class of spatial deictics. Yet, a number of recent studies have argued that space is largely irrelevant to deixis and that demonstratives are primarily used for social and interactive purposes. Synthesizing findings in the literature, we conclude that demonstratives are a very special class of linguistic items that are foundational to both spatial and social aspects of language and cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Article number555265
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2020


  • deixis
  • demonstrative
  • embodied cognition
  • joint attention
  • language acquisition
  • language universals
  • peripersonal action space
  • spatial cognition

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