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The Common Syntax of Deixis and Affirmation

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Title of host publicationOrder and structure in syntax
DatePublished - 18 Dec 2017
Pages281-309
Number of pages29
PublisherLanguage Science Press
Place of PublicationBerlin
EditorsLaura Beiley, Michelle Sheehan
Volume1
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-96110-026-2

Publication series

NameOpen Generative Syntax
PublisherLanguage Science Press

Abstract

This paper pursues a formal analysis of the idea that affirmative answers to Yes/No questions correspond to a sort of propositional deixis whereby the relevant proposition is pointed at. The empirical case involves an analysis of the deictic particle na in Greek and a comparison of its syntax with that of the affirmative particle nai. It is shown that both involve an extra head which in the case of the deictic particle is uniformly externalised as the pointing gesture. It is argued that gestural externalisation of syntactic structure should be considered on a par with phonetic externalisation (not only in sign languages). The grammar of the affirmative particle gives us also an account of the observed facts about Greek whereby both the truth and the polarity answering system appear to coexist.

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