Markedness and the evolution of binary spatial deictics: French voilà and voici


0. Introduction This paper investigates the evolution of the French deictic demonstratives voilà ‘there is’ and voici ‘here is’ with respect to asymmetries in the distribution of the two terms. Critical in this study is the observation that these demonstratives constitute radial categories of related senses. We begin by introducing the phenomenon of radial categories in general, and then move on to a description of the radial category structure of the French deictic demonstrative voilà ‘there is.’ In its central (spatial) case, voilà has usurped some of the semantic ground of voici ‘here is.’ In some of their extended senses, such as the discourse case, voilà and voici maintain distinct semantics, while in other extended senses, such as the paragon case, only voilà is used. Previous accounts of the encroachment of voilà over voici invoke markedness, but these accounts fail to explain how these lexical items pattern in extensions. We suggest that incorporation of the pragmatic functions of particular senses and the metaphorical extensions from which they derive can explain this phenomenon.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Plauch1999MarkednessAT, title={Markedness and the evolution of binary spatial deictics: French voilà and voici}, author={Madelaine Plauch{\'e} and Benjamin K. Bergen}, year={1999} }