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Pointing out directions in Murrinhpatha.pdf (5.93 MB)

Pointing Out Directions in Murrinhpatha

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-06-23, 02:35 authored by Joe Blythe, Kinngirri Carmelita Mardigan, Mawurt Ernest Perdjert, Hywel Stoakes
Rather than using abstract directionals, speakers of the Australian Aboriginal language Murrinhpatha make reference to locations of interest using named landmarks, demonstratives and pointing. Building on a culturally prescribed avoidance for certain placenames, this study reports on the use of demonstratives, pointing and landmarks for direction giving. Whether or not pointing will be used, and which demonstratives will be selected is determined partly by the relative epistemic incline between interlocutors and partly by whether information about a location is being sought or being provided. The reliance on pointing for the representation of spatial vectors requires a construal of language that includes the visuo-corporal modality.


We are grateful for Lucinda Davidson, Jacqueline Tosi and Liz Lennox's assitance in preparing the transcripts for analysis. The paper has benefited from the advice and comments of Jenny Green, Aung Si, Alice Gaby, Lila San Roque, Nick Enfield, the participants in the Place, language and landscape workshop (Radboud University, Nijmegen, 2013) and from two anonymous reviewers. The research was funded by the European Research Council (StG 240853) and the Australian Research Council (DP110100961, DE130100399).


Publication Date



Open Linguistics






28p. (p. 132-159)


Walter de Gruyter



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