Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Linguistics Program

Committee Chair

Leora Bar-el

Commitee Members

Irene Appelbaum, Mizuki Miyashita


deixis, demonstratives, Blackfoot language, pragmatic uses of demonstratives


University of Montana


This thesis presents a comprehensive analysis of the Blackfoot demonstrative system. Previous research on Blackfoot (Uhlenbeck 1938, Taylor 1969, Frantz 2009) identifies sixteen morphemes that make up demonstrative words in the language. I propose a demonstrative template that takes into account the fixed morpheme ordering observed in demonstrative forms. Based on the proposed template, I motivate the analysis of the suffix -ka as encoding motion towards the speaker as this accounts for its position together with the suffixes -ya, -ma, and -hka, each of which encode features of motion or visibility. In describing situational functions of each of the morphemes, I make use of Imai’s (2003) inventory of spatial deictic features. I present the first analysis of the morphologically analyzable, but heretofore undescribed suffix -o as encoding the geometric configuration feature [interior]. This thesis also offers the first explanation of the syntactic contexts that govern the two identificational suffixes -ayi and -ao’ka.

Earlier analyses of the Blackfoot demonstrative system focus on the spatial features encoded by situational uses of demonstratives to the exclusion of other pragmatic functions. As a result, the proposals do not address variations in meaning when used in non-situational pragmatic contexts. To address this gap in the literature, I examine non-situational pragmatic functions, as well as symbolic situational demonstrative uses (e.g. deictic projection, wider-context). The result of this study is a comprehensive analysis of the Blackfoot demonstrative system which takes into account both syntactic and pragmatic functions, providing new insights into the meanings of many of the morphemes that comprise the system. It also provides support from Blackfoot for Himmelmann’s (1996) claim that there are four universal pragmatic functions of demonstratives, and support for Diessel’s (1999) claim that situational uses are the basic demonstrative uses from which the others are derived.



© Copyright 2013 Shannon Scott Schupbach