The noun deixis, pronounced 'DIKE-sis' IPA: /ˈdaɪk si (or ə)s/, is a technical term in linguistics and grammar. It means the 'pointing' function in language, and places the thing being spoken of in relation to the speaker, or some other thing or person. The adjective is deictic ('DIKE-tic', /ˈdaɪk tik/.)Some examples are:
- personal pronouns, where you are defined in realtion to me, and she is distinguished from him.
- demonstratives (demonstrative adjectives, adverbs and demonstrative pronouns etc) such as here and there, this and that. (The two-year-old who, having asked a grown-up "What you doing?" and received the answer "I'm standing here. What are you doing?", replied "I'm standing there" was struggling, imperfectly, to an understanding of deixis.)
- semantic contrasts such as that between the verbs 'to come' and 'togo' and the adjectives near and far - with further deixs shown in the compaative and superlative forms, nearer, further, nearest and furthest.
Deixis may be temporal as well as spatial - that is, it may point to different times as well asx to different places, with such words as today. tomorrow and yesterday, and such relationships as later and earlier.