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Motion deixis, home base and social indexicality among the P'urhepecha

  • Author(s): McClain, Shane
  • et al.

In this thesis I analyze the category of deictic motion in the P'urhepecha language to better understand how language may provide insights into social relations and sense of belonging. I begin by outlining theoretical issues relating to deixis, focusing on the social implications. Next, I present the verbs and suffixes that speakers of P'urhepecha utilize to talk about coming and going. I then describe two suffixes that function to index the goal of motion as a home base. Through examples of home base suffix usage, I make the case that, in talking about motion, speakers index a range social factors that reveal their attitudes towards people and the spaces they inhabit. I show how the category of motion in P'urhepecha covers a wide semantic range through metaphor and semantic bleaching, revealing cultural schemas of motion and returning that underlie speakers' conceptualization of cosmological order and the unfolding of everyday events. Subsequently, I look at linguistic structures that emerge in changing contexts, specifically among people who have migrated. It is my thesis that speech practices in novel circumstances reflect migrants' subjective experiences of continuity and change. That is, the variable use of the home base suffixes in reference to motion towards goals that may or may not be conceptualized as ̀home' provides a running commentary on speakers' own shifting sense of place, identity and belonging. I conclude by proposing how this work may provide a point of departure for further research on the immigrant experience

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