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Socializing deixis : interaction and context in the study of child language


In this thesis, I discuss what an approach to the study of socialization and deixis could look like, and illustrate some of the insights to be drawn from such research. First, in outlining some of the foundational work that has been done on deixis, I identify some of the central problems that any work on deixis must address, especially those relating to the relationship between meaning and context. Next, I conduct a case study of a particular deictic term, the Isthmus Zapotec presentative/directive ja'a. Based on the data I have collected, I draw some preliminary conclusions about how ja'a is used by children in interaction. Ja'a has both presentative and directive functions, distinguished in part by their relative presupposition/constitution of the deictic field ; these two functions may also be accompanied by different kinds of gestures that similarly range from presupposing to creative of the indexing site. Furthermore, ja'a is one specific medium through which children are socialized to attend to intersubjectivity as a feature of context. I argue that deictic terms in general are an important resource for children to learn about indexical relations and the cohabited world. In the final part of the thesis I discuss how research on language socialization can lend to deixis more sophisticated theories of participation frameworks, interaction, and gesture; while research on deixis can lend to socialization studies a more sophisticated theory of context

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