Skilton to defend dissertation

March 15, 2019
Next Friday, March 22, Amalia Skilton will defend her dissertation, entitled Spatial and non-spatial deixis in Cushillococha Ticuna. The defense will take place from 9:10am-12pm in Dwinelle 1229. All members of the department are invited to attend.
This dissertation is a study of the 6-term demonstrative system of Ticuna, a language isolate spoken by 60,000 people in Peru, Colombia, and Brazil.
Much linguistic work on demonstratives has claimed that they encode only the distance of the referent from the participants. By contrast, I argue that no demonstrative of Ticuna conveys any information about distance. Instead, I show that the demonstratives of Ticuna provide listeners with three kinds of information:
  • Perceptual information: Demonstratives encode whether the speaker can see the demonstrative referent.
  • Spatial information: Demonstratives encode where the referent is located relative to the peripersonal space (reaching space) of the discourse participants. Location relative to peripersonal space is crucially different from distance.
  • Attentional information: Demonstratives convey whether the referent is an object of preexisting joint attention.