A cross-linguistic exploration of demonstratives in interaction

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This study examines uses of demonstratives as filler words in the context where speakers encounter trouble in formulating a word during spontaneous speech production. Focusing on three East Asian languages (Japanese, Korean and Mandarin), we first document the range of forms and functions of demonstratives as fillers observed in naturally-occurring conversations. We then explore theoretical issues that arise from this empirical observation, including the question of why demonstratives, among all linguistic items, are utilized as a tool to deal with word-formulation trouble. By investigating the hitherto neglected usages of demonstratives in social interaction, our study contributes both to typological studies of demonstratives and to interactional studies of grammatical phenomena. Keywords: demonstratives; interaction; word-formulation trouble; placeholder; interjective hesitator


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