Glossary: deixis

Explanation

The way that language can refer or 'point' to different things in different contexts. For example, the demonstrative pronoun that in spoken English can refer to a specific thing in the real world at a particular moment, but it can be used to refer to different things by different people in different times and places. Personal pronouns like she and it also show deixis, and are said to be deictic.

Pitching a product

In this resource, students will be studying two extracts of very different sales pitches from the BBC show The Apprentice. Contestants on The Apprentice had to design an app for a smartphone and then pitch it to an audience at a technology fair. The pitches are printed in the handout that can be downloaded and printed at the bottom of this page.

To help students analyse the extracts, ask them the following questions, which are also included in the handout:

Can you see any features of spontaneous talk being used in either extract?

Spoken language

Spoken language and written language are often referred to as two different modes. Spoken language has a structure that is often different from that of written language. Because we use spoken language in different situations from written language, we can often rely on context, gesture and shared understanding, so many of the grammatical structures and devices that we tend to use in written language aren’t necessary.

One mode is not ‘better’ than another mode, and we should be careful not to describe spoken language as ‘incorrect’ or ‘wrong’.

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