Deixis in narrative: a study of Kamaiurá, a TupíGuaraní language of Upper Xingu, Brazil


  • Gerd Carling Lund University/Universidade Brasília
  • Sandra Cronhamn Universidade de Brasília
  • Wary Kamaiurá Universidade de Brasília
  • Elis Jarl Skute Universidade de Brasília



Linguística Antropológica


The current paper describes the deictic system of Kamaiurá, a language of the Tupí-Guaraní family. The Kamaiurá system of deictic demonstratives and adverbials has a high degree of complexity, including at least 17 different forms, of which several have different functions. The system codes four levels of Participant deixis, with proximal, medial, distal and far distal deixis. Forms can also code anaphora and highly specialized locations of the referent, such as ‘moving away’ and ‘located beside something’. A further peculiar and unusual characteristic of the Kamaiurá system is the coding of Modal and Evidential deixis, which is found among the forms marking far distal deixis. Our study has two foci: the first part describes the system in its independent or exophoric use, and this part is based on deep interviews with native speakers and a deixis elicitation study. The second part of the paper represents the core of our study. Here, we investigate the uses of the deictic system in a recorded frog story, looking at anaphoric and cataphoric usages of the forms as well as how they are used to mark topic and focus in the narrative discourse. The text is very rich in deictic forms, and out of the 17 different forms recorded for Kamaiurá, 9 occur in our frog story. We notice a tendency where the hierarchy of increasing distance from the ego in the independent forms is transferred into increasing focus of the narrative. Epistemic modality of the independent forms is used to mark uncertainty in the narrative, i.e., to indicate lack of terms for a specific item, whereas anaphoric deixis of the independent forms marks general reference in the narrative.


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Como Citar

Carling, G., Cronhamn, S., Kamaiurá, W., & Skute, E. J. (2017). Deixis in narrative: a study of Kamaiurá, a TupíGuaraní language of Upper Xingu, Brazil. Revista Brasileira De Linguística Antropológica, 9(1), 13–48.