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Distance, Direction, and Relevance:

How to Choose and Use a Demonstrative in Manambu

Language and Culture Research Centre, James Cook University

Abstract. Manambu, a Ndu language from East Sepik Province in Papua New
Guinea, has a complex system of demonstratives, with many typologically
unusual features. Nominal demonstratives distinguish three degrees of dis-
tance: close to speaker, close to addressee, and distal from both. They can
contain markers of further distance or of topographic deixis, which reflects
spatial orientation frames uphill, upriver, downhill, downriver, and off-
river. A special set of demonstratives marking current relevance can express
further distance and topographic deixis. Some, but not all, demonstratives have
anaphoric functions. Cataphoric functions are attested just for manner demon-
stratives. A noun phrase may contain two demonstratives, specifying informa-
tion that cannot be expressed within one word. The article concludes with a
discussion of functional markedness within the Manambu demonstrative

1. Demonstratives: their meanings and functions. All human languages

have one or more demonstratives. Demonstrativesdefined as grammatical
words (occasionally, clitics or affixes) with pointing, or deictic reference
always form a closed grammatical system. Based on the typological parameters
outlined by Dixon (2010:22161, 2003), we distinguish the following cross-
linguistically attested types.1
Nominal demonstratives: these can occur as modifiers in a noun phrase
with a noun or a pronoun as head, e.g., [this stone]NP is hot. In many lan-
guages, they can make up a complete NP, as in thisNP is hot.
Local adverbial demonstratives: these provide locational specification and
can occur on their own, as does here in put it here, or accompanied by a
noun with locational marking, as in put it on the table here.
Manner adverbial demonstratives: these generally function as noninflect-
ing modifiers to verbs, e.g., go this way, turn that way. They can be derived
from nominal demonstratives.
Major semantic domains covered by demonstratives include spatial location
and distance in space (which may be extended to temporal location), height (or
elevation) and directionality (also known as topographic deixis), and visibility.
Further parameters may include emotional attitude, familiarity to speaker, and
whether the object pointed at is moving or stationary (see Dixon 2010:245;
Mithun 1999:13236; Anderson and Keenan 1985:2899; Diessel 1999:3555;
Zandvoort 1975:148). Demonstratives may have anaphoric functions, to refer to

entities mentioned earlier in the text. An anaphoric expression can substitute

for a noun phrase; this is known as substitution anaphora (see Dixon 2003,
2010). Textual anaphora involves anaphoric reference to a clause or a larger
chunk of discourse. Cataphoric functions of demonstratives involve reference to
something later in the text. Just like with anaphora, a participant, a clause, or a
chunk of discourse can be referred to cataphorically.
Topographic deixis in demonstratives may reflect aspects of the environ-
ment (what Bickel [2001] refers to as environmental space). If a language is
spoken in a mountainous area, or along a river, topographic deixis may encode
elevation and directions uphill or upriver, downhill or downriver, and
off-river (see, e.g., Post 2011, and references therein; further examples in
Aikhenvald 2014). These meanings may correlate with distance in space, extent
in time, or both. Highly elaborate multiterm demonstrative systems, with
numerous distinctions in distance and topographic deixis (i.e., directionality and
elevation) are uncommon. Many languages distinguish direction and elevation
in their demonstrative systems only for some spatial demonstratives (e.g.,
distal, but not proximal). Elevation and directionality can also be expressed on
verbs (see, e.g., Dayley 1985:265, 1989; Post 2011; Zhang 2013). In some lan-
guages, directional and other topographic markers occur on verbs and on demon-
stratives, with different semantic overtones.
The topic of this article is a typologically unusual system of demonstratives
in Manambu, a Ndu language spoken along the Sepik River in the northwest
part of the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. Nominal demonstratives
in Manambu combine several distance distinctions with an elaborate topogra-
phic deixis, codifying elevation and direction with regard to mountain- and river-
oriented frames.2 An additional series of demonstratives encodes the relevance
of a participant to the discourse situation. The distinctions expressed depend on
the type of demonstratives, and only some can occur together in one gramma-
tical word. Nominal demonstratives have a prominent role in discourse and com-
municationthey are used for introducing new participants, identifying parti-
cipants, and summarizing a stretch of discourse or conversation. Only some can
be used for anaphora and for cataphora. There is an additional set of manner
demonstratives. A study of demonstratives (as of most other categories in a
language) can be properly conducted only through analysis of texts, immediate
connected speech, and spontaneous interaction (see, e.g., Hayashi and Yoon
2010). As Mithun put it, it is easy to overlook their function in the molding of
discourse if they are examined only in isolated, elicited sentences (1987:194).
Manambu demonstratives are particularly important for spatial orientation,
participant tracking, organization of information flow, and referential practices
in interaction, and in spontaneous, and in planned, discourse. These form the
basis for the present study.
In section 2, I describe some general features of the Manambu language
necessary for understanding the demonstratives, and then summarize their

typologically unusual properties. Nominal demonstratives and manner demon-

stratives are addressed in sections 3 and 4. A summary and a brief discussion of
functional markedness in Manambu demonstratives are provided in section 5.3

2. Background: the Manambu language.

2.1. Linguistic profile and grammatical features. Manambu belongs to

the Ndu language family.4 The language is spoken by approximately three
thousand people in five villages (Avatip, Yawabak, Malu, Apa:n, and Yuanab
[Yambon]) in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea, as well as expa-
triate communities in Port Moresby and in Wewak (Aikhenvald 2008; see map
1). Although the national lingua franca Tok Pisin is encroaching on it, as on
many languages in Papua New Guinea, Manambu maintains its vitality, and
the remarkable demonstrative systems examined in the present article are
being fully learned by children.

Map 1. Location of the Manambu-speaking villages Avatip, Malu, and Yuanab (Yambon)
(language names are given in capital letters). Adapted from a map by Andrew Hardy and
reprinted from Aikhenvald, The Manambu Language of East Sepik, Papua New Guinea
(2008) by permission of Oxford University Press (

The language is synthetic and predominantly suffixing. Clausal constitu-

ent order has a verb-final tendency. Extensive clause-chaining with numerous
markers of switch-reference is a property Manambu shares with many other
languages of the Sepik region.

A prominent linguistic feature of Manambu is its gender system. Every noun

can be assigned to masculine or feminine gender. Gender is marked covertly; a
nouns gender is not obvious from the nouns own form (the only exception is
personal names, some of which have a gender-marking formative), but rather is
recognizable through marking of agreement with the noun on modifiers (includ-
ing demonstratives, adjectives, the number word one, relative clauses, and pos-
session markers) and predicates. Number (with three values: singular, dual, and
plural) is also marked just through agreement on modifiers and the predicate.
As in most languages of the Ndu family, gender assignment in Manambu is
variable and meaning based. It involves biological sex for humans: males are
masculine and females are feminine. When it comes to nonhumans and inani-
mates, gender assignment is based on shape and size. Animals and objects that
are long, slim, or large are assigned to the masculine gender; thus, a pair of
trousers, a stick, a big dog, and a large house are masculine. Animals and objects
that are small and round are feminine; for instance, a small round pan, a small
dog, and a small house are feminine. Nouns referring to substances and time
spans require feminine gender agreement unless they refer to unusually large
quantities and lengths of time. Masculine gender assignment has a similar
semantic effect to that of an augmentative in other languages.
Gender choice also correlates with the relative importance of an object. A
traditional story, a traditional performance, and a big important clan are mascu-
line. A less important story, a casual performance, and a small, less important
clan are feminine. This can be explained by the traditional cultural importance
of male cults and their attributes, following the principle of expanding the mean-
ing of a gender based on important property (see Dixon [1982:17983] on
important property in gender choice in Dyirbal).
Gender is marked in the singular only, by the suffixes d() masculine
singular and or l feminine singular (see Aikhenvald [2012] for the rules of
allomorph distribution). Gender and number agreement marked on two modi-
fiers (a distal demonstrative and an agreeing adjective big) is illustrated in (1)
and (2).

(1) a numa nbk5

DEM.DIST+FEM.SG big+FEM.SG mountain
that biggish hill (not very big)

(2) ad numad nbk

a really big hill, a mountain (e.g., Mount Ambunti)

Personal pronouns distinguish three numbers (singular, dual, and plural) and
two gender forms for second person singular (mn you [masculine] and n you
[feminine]), and third singular (d he and l she). Third person pronouns can
be used as specifier articles (see section 3.5.1).

2.2. Topographic features of the environment. The Manambu live along

the Sepik River, which is their main point of orientation, means of communi-
cation, and source of livelihood (see Aikhenvald [2009] for discussion of the
Manambu in the context of other river-dwelling communities in the Sepik
region). Communication is by boat, and just occasionally by land. The Manambu
villages are low-lying and are often flooded during the rainy season. The area is
quite hilly. The directions codified in the language include up and down (a river
or a mountain), across the river, and off-river. About twenty years ago, the Sepik
River changed its course and the former location of Avatip was flooded. The
village had to move close to the river shore. The former location of the village
(now covered with swamps) is now referred to as off the Sepik River in the
direction of the land.
The Manambu divide into three clan groups (of distinct origins): the Sun-
Moon clan, the Dark clan, and the In-Between clan. Every clan group and the
subclans within it own objects (e.g., fauna, flora, household objects) and have
their special areas within each village. This is important for deictic reference to
these areas (see example (15) in section 3.1.3 and the discussion there).

2.3. What is special about Manambu demonstratives. Manambu has two

grammatically defined groups of demonstratives: nominal demonstratives (see
section 3) and manner adverbial demonstratives (see section 4).
There is no separate set of local adverbial demonstratives. Nominal demon-
stratives (in some cases accompanied with local case markers, locative, allative,
and terminative) are used as local adverbial demonstratives (see sections 3.1
and 3.2). This is not uncommon cross-linguisticallyfor instance, in Aguaruna,
a Jivaroan language from Peru, local demonstratives are in fact locative case
forms of nominal demonstratives (Overall forthcoming). The accusative-locative
case Vm in Manambu always has a locative reading with demonstratives.6
Three basic demonstrative roots are used in nominal demonstratives. Only
two of them are used in manner demonstratives. These are shown in table 1.

Table 1. Basic Demonstrative Roots in Manambu

k close to speaker yes yes
wa close to addressee yes no
a far from both speaker yes yes
and addressee, distal

Only two of the three demonstrative stems (close to speaker and far from both
speaker and addressee, distal) can refer to time as well as to space.
The system of demonstratives in Manambu is typologically unusual in the
following ways.

First, the close to speaker and distal roots can each take any of three
markers of additional distance. The close to addressee can take just two addi-
tional distance specifications. Alternatively, each of the three can occur with one
of the five additional direction and location specifications reflecting topographic
deixis. Topographic deixis (up, down, across, outwards, and off-river) and the
marking of additional distance are mutually exclusive within one demonstrative
word in Manambu.
Second, the language distinguishes between spatial demonstratives and
current relevance demonstratives. The latter cannot take gender-number or
case, and have fewer distance distinctions than the spatial ones.
Third, two demonstratives can occur together in one noun phrase, carrying
different kinds of information about current relevance, anaphora, topographic
deixis, and distance between two grammatical words. This distribution of in-
formation is unlike constructions in other languages with instances in which
several demonstratives cooccur in one noun phrase.

3. Nominal demonstratives. All nominal demonstratives in Manambu have

the same range of syntactic functions. They can be used as prehead modifiers
and as heads of noun phrases; when they occupy the predicate slot, they take
nominal cross-referencing enclitics (which are also used for marking focus).
A nominal demonstrative word may express singular, dual, or plural num-
ber and masculine or feminine gender in the singular; alternatively, demon-
stratives may be marked for current relevance by the suffix na, in which case
they do not distinguish number or gender. The current relevance suffix indicates
that the entity pointed at is being talked about or thought about, or is of imme-
diate or on-going importance to the speakers in discourse or in interaction.
Furthermore, a demonstrative can contain either one of three additional
markers for distance, or one of five additional markers of topographic deixis.
Both options are attested for demonstratives marked for gender-number and for
those marked for current relevance. Markers of topographic deixis combine
reference to directionality of movement of an entity (if it is moving) and its
elevation and position relative to the speakers location (uphill, up, or upriver,
downhill, down, or downriver, and so on). An overlapping set of topographic
markers on verbs relate to directionality of movement rather than location; we
turn to this in section 5.3.3.
Based on the restrictions on cooccurrence of gender-number, current rele-
vance, and additional markers of distance and of direction and height, we obtain
four possibilities shown in table 2.
Nominal demonstratives unmarked for current relevance take the same
cases as nouns (except for transportative cases say and sap, which refer to
means of transport). In contrast, current relevance demonstratives do not take
case markersthe same form refers to a core argument or to a peripheral in any
function. The exact meaning can be understood through the context (see sections
3.3 and 3.4).

Table 2. Categories Marked in Manambu Nominal Demonstratives

+ + 3.1
+ + 3.2
+ + 3.3
+ + 3.4

3.1. Nominal demonstratives marked for gender-number and additional

distance. The nominal demonstratives marked for gender and number and
additional distance (and unmarked for topographic deixis and current relevance)
are shown in table 3. The proximal demonstrative close to speaker and the dis-
tal demonstratives can occur together with three markers of additional distance.
The proximal demonstrative close to addressee occurs only with two.

Table 3. Nominal Demonstratives Marked for Gender-Number and Additional

FEM.SG. /l, MASC.SG. d, proximal time; substitution
DUAL br, PL. di anaphora
k proximal FEM.SG. l, MASC.SG. d, ay further from time; substitution
(close to speaker) DUAL br, PL. di speaker anaphora
awi very far (none)
from speaker
FEM.SG. , MASC.SG. d, proximal to empathy and
DUAL br, PL. di addressee derogatory
wa proximal to association with
addressee (close addressee
to addressee) FEM.SG. l, MASC.SG. d, ay further from to address an
DUAL br, PL. di addressee interlocutor;
association with
FEM.SG. , MASC.SG. d, far from time; substitution
DUAL br, PL. di speaker and anaphora
a distal (far addressee
from both
FEM.SG. l, MASC.SG. d, ay further from time
speaker and
DUAL br, PL. di speaker and
awi very far (none)
from both

Each demonstrative, with the exception of those accompanied with the suffix
awi very far (the third degree of additional distance), can have further func-
tions. The proximal close to speaker and the distal demonstratives can be used
to refer to time, and for substitution and textual anaphora (in the senses out-
lined in section 1; see also Dixon 2003). The proximal close to addressee may
express cognitive distance (with regard to the addressee), and detachment or
empathy of the speaker. Nominal demonstratives are not used for textual ana-
phora, nor for cataphora. Pragmatic properties and interactional uses of nomi-
nal demonstratives are discussed in section 3.1.5 and are not included in table 3.
Demonstratives are frequently accompanied by pointing gestures. Pointing
out a direction is done with a full palm of a hand moving up and down to indicate
movement, as illustrated in figure 1. Pointing at an entity is done with the index
finger, as shown in figure 2 (pointing at a mountain we were passing by).7

Figure 1. Pointing out a direction while traveling on the Sepik River: full hand.

Figure 2. Pointing at a mountain while traveling on the Sepik River: finger-pointing.


The rest of this section examines the deictic uses of nominal demonstratives
(section 3.1.1), their temporal meanings (section 3.1.2), the ways in which they
may express association with the addressee (section 3.1.3), their uses in substi-
tution anaphora (section 3.1.4) and their functions in interaction (section 3.1.5).

3.1.1 Deictic use of nominal demonstratives. Deictic uses of demonstra-

tives are by far the most frequent in all the genres within the corpus (both in
terms of types and in terms of tokens). The proximal k near the speaker is
used to refer to someone or something close to the speaker. In (3), for example,
this demonstrative is used for both the girls referred to, who were equally close
to their mother, the speaker. (Here and throughout the article demonstratives
are in bold type.)

(3) k nma tku klk

After this one (girl) has become big, she has given them (her clothes) to this

This demonstrative can also be used to refer to a place where the speaker is
located (an example can be seen in (19a) and (45)). More frequently than the
other nominal demonstratives, proximal k can be accompanied with a pointing
The proximal demonstrative wa refers to an object or a person near the
addressee. For example, my adopted sister and I went to fetch drinking water
from a tank. Each of us was carrying two empty bottles in our hands, and she
said (4) to me.

(4) ta:y wabr tu:tk

first DEM.PROX.ADDR-DU fill.with.water-1DU.IMPV
Lets first fill up the two (bottles) close to you.

The distal demonstrative a refers to objects or people far from both speaker
and addressee; they may be still visible to both, as in (5), but do not have to be.

(5) ad du nad

aj=ad, kd du ma:
maternal.uncle=3MASC.SG.NOM DEM.PROX-MASC.SG man NEG
That man (standing far from us both) is your maternal uncle, this man (next to us)
[is] not.

The markers ay further and awi very far specify additional distance.
The form k close to speaker + ay additional distance refers to objects close

to the speaker, but not quite so near as k proximate; close to speaker, and
often also visible. Mount Ambunti (called Makmawi) towering over the Sepik
River and visible from Avatip was usually referred to as kday nbk (DEM.
PROX-MASC.SG-DIST mountain) this somewhat distant mountain.
The proximal demonstrative k accompanied by awi remote distance is
used to refer to entities that are more remote than the ones referred to with k
+ ay distance. A mountain just behind Mount Ambunti was usually referred to
as kdawi nbk (DEM.PROX-MASC.SG-VERY.DIST mountain) this very distant
Two proximal demonstratives marked for additional distance within the
same sentence in (6) illustrate such relative remoteness. The narrator was
vehement that a particular clan had no right to a piece of land beyond Mount
Ambunti, quite far away (and only just visible, referred to as klay (DEM.PROX-
FEM.SG-DIST) this (distant), and to another piece far up the Sepik River, kl
awi (DEM.PROX-FEM.SG-VERY.DIST) this (very distant).

(6) klayima:b, dya tami: ma:,


In this (distant) place, it is not their land; in this very distant place, too.

The form wa close to addressee with the marker of additional distance ay

implies that the referent is closer to the addressee than to the speaker, but not
in close proximity to either. When we went to visit the grave of the recently
deceased Yuawalup, I asked my interlocutor about which of the two graves
belonged to Yuawalup. We were standing at the opposite side of a footpath and
Yuawalups grave was somewhat closer to me than to my interlocutor, who then
uttered (7).

(7) lk matmat walay=a

Her (Yuawalups) grave is here further away from us both [and] closer to you (than
to me).

On another occasion, Yuaneng and I were on a boat almost in the middle of the
Sepik River traveling home to Avatip when Yuaneng noticed someone she knew
in a part of the Yuanab village we were passing by. She shouted (8) to inquire if
their father (who was close to them, but not to her) was well.

(8) waday asa:y!

How about the father over there close to you?

The demonstrative wa close to addressee does not distinguish a further degree

of distance.
The form a distal + ay additional distance refers to objects considerably
further away from both speaker and addressee than those referred to with a
simple a distal demonstrative. An example is seen in (9). The location aleb
was at a substantial distance from both the speaker and the audience.

(9) alay album rdi

They (an extinct group called Amey) stayed over there in aleb (beyond Avatip).

If a distal demonstrative is accompanied by awi very far, it refers to a very

remote location, typically invisible or even unknown to the speaker. Paitek, in
telling us the story of the extinct tribe Amey, referred in (10) to their original
village as being very far. In the subsequent discussion, he mentioned that the
village must have been somewhere down south towards the Chambri Lakes
area, but he did not really know exactly where it was located (the location of the
Chambri lakes relative to the Manambu villages can be seen in map 1).

(10) au kta adawi tpa:m naka:b ma: ku

but now DEM.DIST-MASC.SG-VERY.FAR village+LOC one-too NEG stay+NEG
But now in that very far away village (the original village of the Amey, somewhere
down south into the Chambri lakes area) not one of them (the Amey) remains.

3.1.2. From space to time: temporal meanings of nominal demonstra-

tives. Manambu has a number of monomorphemic time words: nbl today,
sr tomorrow, mu the day after tomorrow, na:l yesterday, nags the day
before yesterday, db three days before today, pasta:kw four days before
today, and waknay five days before today, remote past. (If one chooses not to
be precise, one may use nags to refer to the recent past and waknay or ta:y,
ta:yir before for a long time ago; see Aikhenvald 2008:56556).
The two demonstratives, k proximal and a distal, can also refer to time.
The proximal stem unmarked for further distance refers to the present, as in
(11a) and (11b).

(11a) k wik
this week (now)

(11b) kd kiyad nabi

this (current) year which is coming to an end (lit., dying)

The form marked for additional distance with ay refers to the future, as in (12a)
and (12b).

(12a) klay wik

next week

(12b) kday nabi

next year

The distal demonstrative a refers to the past, as in (13a)(13d). The additional

distance marker expresses a more remote past.

(13a) a wik
last week

(13b) alay wik

week before last

(13c) ad nabi
last year

(13d) aday nabi

year before last

These examples reflect a typologically common extension from space to time.

The far distance marker awi does not have any temporal reference, nor does the
proximal-to-addressee demonstrative wa.

3.1.3. Demonstratives and association with the addressee. In many

languages of the world, demonstratives can have additional meanings to do
with endearment and emotional proximity (see Zandvoort [1975:148] and Dixon
[2010:245] on the use of proximal and distal demonstratives in such senses in
English). In Manambu, wa close to addressee is the only nominal demonstra-
tive that has additional meanings relating to speakers attitude and association
with the addressee. The form wa (without an additional distance marker) can
have somewhat derogatory overtones, referring to something belonging to the
addressee the speaker wishes to have nothing to do with. I was very keen on go-
ing to visit the Swakap village located off the April River (further up the Sepik
River) where one of the least-described Ndu languages is spoken. The Swakap
people are traditional enemies of the Manambu (see Aikhenvald 2009) and
feared head-hunters, and there is lingering mistrust with regard to them. When
I asked the late Sepaywus to tell me more about the Swakap people, he referred

to them as wadi Swakap (DEM.PROX.ADDR-PL Swakap) these Swakap people of

yoursliterally, the Swakap close to you.
Along similar lines, a man fed up with the behavior of his son was talking to
his wife about the boy, and referred to him as wad an (DEM.PROX.ADDR-
MASC.SG child) this close-to-you son, even though the son was located closer to
the speaker than to the wife, and was his son as well as hers.8
The demonstrative wa proximal to the addressee reflects the addressees
association with the object pointed at and cognitive proximity to that object. It
can also be used to attract the addressees attention. Maguni was asked to tell
us a story. She chose a story about a woman and an evil spirit disguised as
another woman, and referred to these two as wabr ta:kw (DEM.PROX.ADDR-DU
woman) these close-to-addressee women, meaning the women you asked for a
story about.
The form wa close to addressee plus the additional marker of distance ay
is consistently used as an attention getter and address term for a familiar inter-
locutor, typically an age peer, e.g., walay (DEM.PROX.ADDR-FEM.SG-DIST) hey
you (woman), you here (close to addressee), waday (DEM.PROX.ADDR-MASC.SG-
DIST) hey you (man), you here (close to addressee), wabra:y hey you two. One
woman commanded another one to throw a piece of paper (thing) into a pile of
rubbish by uttering (14).

(14) walay, wa ma:gw


puspa:m atak!
rubbish+LK+LOC IMPV-put
Hey you, put this (close to you) whatchamicallit into the rubbish!

This form can be also used to describe something belonging to, conceptually
close to, or totemically owned by the addressee. Teketa:y, a member of a differ-
ent clan group than the one into which I was adopted, was explaining to me the
location of the territory of the Maliau clan into which I was adopted. She said
(15) to me, referring to my area of the Maliau clan (called Sugulbi). We were
standing next to each other about five hundred meters away from the Sugulbi
area, at the same distance from the area. The area was totemically mine (the
addressees); this explains the use of the demonstrative.9

(15) n Maliau=an, waday Sugulbi=ad

You are of Maliau clan, this one of yours a bit away is Sugulbi (area).

Neither the proximal demonstrative k nor the distal demonstrative a

have any of these additional meanings that wa has. The proximal to addressee
demonstrative stands out in this way.

3.1.4. Demonstratives and substitution anaphora. As shown in table 3,

two of the three demonstrative stems can be used anaphorically. As a marker of
substitution anaphora, the demonstrative k close to speaker refers to a refer-
ent just mentioned or discussed. This is similar to what Mithun (1987:188) de-
scribes for Tuscarora, an Iroquoian language.
Example (16) comes from a story about the origins of the inhabitants of the
Manambu-speaking Malu village, some of whom trace their roots to a group
known as Wa:n ka Kayuk (ear-bamboo Kayuk). These have just been men-
tioned in the previous clause, and the storyteller continued, referring to the
group as these proximal ear-bamboo Kayuk. (The choice of masculine gender is
due to the large size of the group; see section 2.1 on gender choice in Manambu).

(16) alb ra:d kd wa:n


ka Kayuk
bamboo Kayuk
This (mentioned) Bamboo-eared Kayuk (a group of extinct people) stayed there (far
away from Avatip in Malu). (lit., there stayed this Bamboo-eared Kayuk)

If a previously mentioned participant is far away, he or she can be referred

to with a proximal demonstrative accompanied with a marker ay for additional
instance. Kudapa:kw was chatting to us about her children, especially her son
Ryan. She used (17) to refer to Ryan, who has just been mentioned in the con-
versation, as this, previously mentioned far away child. Ryan lives rather far,
in Lae, and so was referred to with a marker of additional distance.

(17) kday an ma:m=ad

This (recently mentioned far away) child is the elder brother (of the other one).

That is, a demonstrative marked for additional distance can combine anaphoric
and spatial reference within one grammatical word. This appears to be the case
only for the proximal demonstrative. In section 3.5 below, it can be seen that two
demonstrativesone with anaphoric and one with spatial deictic referencecan
occur within one noun phrase.
The distal demonstrative a is most frequently used anaphorically to refer to
a participant mentioned somewhat earlier than the one referred to with k
proximal demonstrative. After Ryans mother (the speaker of (17)) had left,
(18) was uttered.

(18) ad an Laeam kwanad

That (previously mentioned) child (Ryan) lives in Lae.

As mentioned above, none of the demonstratives is used for cataphora or for

textual anaphora. One usually refers to a previous stretch of discourse as k
ma:j (DEM.PROX+FEM.SG talk/speech) this talk. As is discussed in section 4,
manner demonstratives can be used cataphorically.

3.1.5. Nominal demonstratives in interaction. Nominal demonstratives

marked for gender-number are deployed in discourse interaction, regulating
information flow and reflecting the relative importance of the participants.
These functions are restricted to the proximal demonstrative (close to speaker)
and to the distal demonstrative unmarked for additional distance.
The proximal demonstrative is often used to introduce a protagonist in a
story or an important location, or event. Compare conventional storytelling in
English: There was this Irishman. He bought a thermos flask. (See Dixon
[2003:85] for more examples and references; a similar phenomenon in Tuscarora
is discussed by Mithun [1987:188]; de Vries [2006:823] addresses the role of
demonstratives as topic markers; cf. Aikhenvald [2008:2045].) In (19a), at the
beginning of the story, a man belonging to the Amey people, who is one of
protagonists of the story, is introduced as this man. The story was told in Malu,
and the second occurrence of this in (19a) refers to this very village we were in
when the story was told (and has spatial reference). In the sentence that
immediately follows, given in (19b), the Amey people are the protagonists and
they are referred to as this (masculine group). Their numbers were large,
which is why they are referred to with masculine gender. (A multiword noun
phrase is in square brackets.)

(19a) [kd [k tp]NP du]NP=ad

This (protagonist) is a man of this (where we are) village (i.e., Malu).

(19b) [kd wabanad Amy]NP samasa:m

This (protagonist) Amey group so called by us was numerous.

Example (20) is the opening sentence of a story about men who tried to catch
flying foxes. The protagonists are introduced with the proximal demonstrative.

(20) [kbr du viti]NP kbwi vyak aban takabr

DEM.PROX-DU man two kill-PURP conspire put-3DU.SUBJ
These two men (protagonists) conspired to kill flying foxes.

Similar to the proximal demonstrative see in Estonian (Keevallik 2010:169), the

proximal demonstrative is a controlled rhetorical device and a cue for the
audience; a participant marked this way is bound to be important for the story.

A less important and backgrounded participant is likely to be referred to

with the distal demonstrative. In (21), from a story about migrations of the
Manambu people from Avatip, the totemic Asiti village previously mentioned
but not immediately important for the ongoing story is referred to as that. The
protagonists of the story are the villages of Yajagay, Lapagay (former locations
of the present-day Avatip), and Yawabak (where the story was told). The unfold-
ing story deals with how people spread across these villages.

(21) tay:ir aba:b [ad Asiti wadanad

before also DEM.DIST-MASC.SG Asiti say-3PL.SUBJ-3MASC.SG.OBJ

tpa:m]NP rku warn Apatpa:m rku tay:ir anadi

village-LK+LOC sit-SS go.up-SEQ Avatip-LK+LOC sit-SS before we.PL-LK-PL
gwaluwgubr rku [k Yajagay wadana
ancestor-PL sit-SS DEM.PROX+FEM.SG Yajagay say-3PL.SUBJ-3MASC.SG.OBJ
tp]NP [k Yawabak wadana tp]NP
village DEM.PROX+FEM.SG Yawabak say-3PL.SUBJ-3FEM.SG village
[k Lapagay wadana tp] miyawa=adi
DEM.PROX+FEM.SG Lapagay say-3PL.SUBJ+3FEM.SG village all=3PL.NOM
Before, having also stayed (lit., sat) in that (well-known) village called Asiti
having gone up (the river) having stayed in Avatip before, our ancestors, they
were all in this village called Yajagay, in this village called Yawabak, in this
village called Lapagay.

The Asiti village is known to everyone in the audience; it thus represents old
information, which is another reason why it is referred to as that. Yagajay,
Yawabak, and Lapagay and their emergence are new information. This is why
these village names are accompanied by the proximal demonstrative in its prag-
matic meaning of new information.
The distal demonstrative unmarked for additional distance appears in a few
further discourse contexts. It is very frequently used as a summarizing marker
at the end of a story or a paragraph, meaning something like thats all, as in
(22). Clauses are in square brackets.

(22) [al=al] [wuna kwasa ma:j


kusl=al aka]
[mawur aka wulana]
Thats all (lit., that is), my little story finishes there, (it) enters the end (lit.,
enters the base).

In conversations, an interlocutor typically adds al=al thats all at the end

of his or her turn, opening the option of turn taking to another person. It is thus

comparable to the filler function of the distal demonstrative in Japanese

(Hayashi and Yoon 2010:3839), in Kurtp (Hyslop 2011:377), and in Khwarshi
(Khalilova 2009:150). Alternatively, the same form in Manambu can be used as
a conversation sustainer: if one participant is telling a story, the other one may
say al=al as a way of signaling that they are listening.
The distal demonstrative a in its functionally unmarked feminine form
is also used as a connective then, so. The dative feminine form of the distal
demonstrative is used in the sentence connective alk (DEM.DIST-FEM.SG-DAT)
this is why (see n. 9 and example (38)).
The proximal demonstrative k close to speaker (unmarked for additional
distance) is often used as an interjection expressing surprise. It then occurs as a
predicate head (usually in the singular form). Gender choice depends on the sex,
size, and shape of the entity one is surprised at (in agreement with the princi-
ples in section 2.1). I showed a speaker a picture of a kangaroo which was bigger
than a child standing next to it; the reaction was Ka! (DEM.PROX+3FEM.SG.NOM)
This one (what a surprise)!.
Another, rather unexpected, sense of the proximal demonstrative in ex-
clamatory sentences is that of an emphatic no. In this use, Ka! (DEM.PROX+
3FEM.SG.NOM) No, not this one (feminine)! categorically refutes a proposition.
In a story, one of two sisters was trying to let their paternal uncle sleep in their
house; the other sister was strongly opposed to it, and said Ka! Similarly, the
masculine form Kad! (DEM.PROX+3MASC.SG.NOM) No, not this one (masculine)!
can be used to negate the identity of a large or important (masculine) object (or
a male person.10
If a speaker cannot remember the name of a participant, the proximal
demonstrative k can be used as a placeholder. Example (23), from a conversa-
tion, illustrates the placeholder function of the proximal demonstrative.

(23) kd du PAUSE dkd s kwasa

wukma:rtua Aulapan=ad? Ma:? o
forget-1SG.SUBJ+3FEM.SG.OBJ Aulapan=3MASC.SG.NOM no or
This man . . . [pause] . . . his name I forgot a little, is it Aulapan? No? Balagawi?

When a speaker is searching for a word with an inanimate referent in mind,

none of the demonstratives are used as a sign of hesitation. In such contexts
speakers use the generic noun ma:gw thingamajig, whatchamacallit (it can be
set off by pauses, or not, as in (14); see Aikhenvald 2008:57374). This is
different from languages such as Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese,
where distal demonstratives are used as placeholders and fillers for animate and
inanimate referents (Hayashi and Yoon 2010).

It can be seen above that the less formally marked nominal demonstrative
forms a and k (without additional distance or topographic deixis specifica-
tions) have additional discourse-pragmatic uses not available for demonstra-
tives marked for additional distance, and thus can be considered functionally
less marked. This is a manifestation of a pervasive tendency to correlate formal
and functional markedness throughout Manambu grammar. Functional
markedness in Manambu demonstratives is examined in section 5.

3.2. Nominal demonstratives marked for gender-number and

topographic deixis. Table 4 shows the structure of nominal demonstratives
marked for gender-number and topographic deixis (and unmarked for additional
distance and current relevance). Here the left-to-right order of columns repre-
sents the relative position of each morpheme in the nominal demonstrative
word. These demonstratives are used exclusively for pointing. They are not used
anaphorically, and do not have any meanings related to time, empathy, or
discourse prominence and information flow, unlike the nominal demonstratives
discussed in section 3.1.

Table 4. Nominal Demonstratives Distinguishing Gender, Number, and

Topographic Deixis
k proximal l FEM.SG wur up
wa proximal to d MASC.SG d(a) down
addressee br DUAL aki across
a distal di PL aku outwards
wula off-river, away from
the Sepik River

Markers of topographic deixis on demonstratives distinguish the following

directions, elevations, and locations: wur up (a mountain or the Sepik River),
d(a) down (a mountain or the Sepik River), aki across (away from the
speaker), aku outward direction or location, away from the banks of the Sepik
River, and wula off the Sepik River, away from the Sepik shore in the
direction of the land.
For instance, a house (or a part of it) that is located off the Sepik will be
referred to as klawula wi (DEM.PROX-FEM.SG-OFF.RIVER house) off-river
house. A house located on the other shore of the Sepik will be referred to as
klaku wi (DEM.PROX-FEM.SG-OUTWARD house) outward-located house away
from the River.
Markers of topographic deixis are very frequent in conversations and sto-
ries. They may indicate location of an object with respect to the speaker (the
relative frame of reference; see Levinson 2003:2426). When traditional Ma-
nambu speakers who live in other areas of Papua New Guinea and elsewhere
use directionals with demonstratives, they try to establish the relative direction

of the Sepik River first. There is a preference for describing locations inside the
house using the intrinsic frame of reference. But this is not always so: in (33),
the downwards/downstream location of the place with the imaginary mice
reflects the position of this part of the house as downriver with respect to the
Sepik River. Out of context, a form like alada (DEM.DIST-FEM.SG-LK-DOWN)
can mean downriver, downwards (from where we are), or underground. The
frame of reference is largely determined by the speakers choice (see Aikhenvald
2008:214). Unlike demonstratives in other languages (such as Belhare [Bickel
2001]), those in Manambu do not make any reference to social deixis.
Below are some examples of how demonstratives marked for topographic
deixis are used. As background to (24), the stars are believed to belong to the
same clan group as the one I was adopted into. Since they belong to the feminine
gender (by mythological association), they are considered women and my
potential co-wives (women of the same clan group marry men from the opposite
clan or clans). My adoptive mother, Gemaj, keen on making sure I get things
right, pointed at them and uttered (24).

(24) kdiawur kugar ti:d=adi

DEM.PROX-PL-LK-UP star co.wife=3PL.NOM
These stars up (in the sky, above us) are (your) co-wives.

A speaker was looking at the pictures I brought to show them, holding the album
at a slightly skewed direction; she uttered (25) as a comment.

(25) kdaki nad du=ad

This one across is your husband.

A young woman in Yuanab (where we were visiting) was pointing out her child-
ren to us. The smallest one was standing on the downward part of a slope, close
to where I was sitting, and was referred to with (26).

(26) walada wuna grgr=al

The one (feminine) downwards close to you is my tiny one.

Markers of topographic deixis can also indicate the location of an object with
respect to an important landmark (the absolute frame of reference; see Levinson
2003). As mentioned above, this is invariably the Sepik River, as in (27).
The previous location of Avatip, whose name is Tepayaburman, is further
away from the Sepik River than the present one (see section 2.2). This old
village is far from the present one, and this is why the distal demonstrative is
used. The village was big (and so is the extant area), which is why it is referred
to with masculine gender.

(27) adawula tp kd s

The name of that (big) village off-river is Tepayaburman.

In conversations, demonstratives accompanied by different markers of topo-

graphic deixis may disambiguate classificatory kin in the same relationship to
the speaker. It used to be the norm in Manambu communities for speakers not
to employ personal names in day-to-day life to refer to each other. During a
ceremony in 2004, I was sitting in a house in the company of a group of women
who were mine and my adoptive sisters classificatory mothers. A speaker re-
ferred to one of these women who was sitting across from her as klaki amay
(DEM.PROX-FEM.SG-ACROSS.AWAY mother) this mother sitting across from me,
and to the other one who was sitting in a part of the house that was further away
from the Sepik River as klawula amay (DEM.PROX-FEM.SG-LK-OFF.RIVER
mother) this mother sitting closer to the part of the house further away from
the Sepik River than me. A recently deceased owner of the house I was staying
in was buried some distance away, across the main road within Avatip; she
was referred to as alaki amay (DEM.DIST-FEM.SG-ACROSS.AWAY mother) that
mother across there (and thus differentiated from other classificatory mothers).
We can recall, from section 2.3, that nominal demonstratives accompanied
with local case markers function as local adverbial demonstratives. Nominal
demonstratives without directionals are always marked with locational cases
when they refer to locations, e.g., klm (DEM.PROX-FEM-LOC) here, klr
( DEM . PROX - FEM - ALL ) towards here, walm ( DEM . PROX . ADDR - FEM - LOC )
here (close to addressee), alm (DEM.DIST-FEM-LOC) there, and so on. Those
marked for topographic deixis tend to take cases, but do not have to, e.g., both
DOWN) mean there underneath or downstream. Markers of topographic deixis
serve as exponents of location in themselves, thus creating an additional, how-
ever minor, morphosyntactic difference between the two sets of demonstratives.
The Manambu demonstratives specified for topographic deixis never refer to
time. This lack of space to time extension is paralleled by Kurtp, a Tibeto-
Burman language (Hyslop 2011:377). In contrast, in Nungon, another language
of New Guinea (Sarvasy 2014), nominal demonstratives marked for topographic
deixis may refer to time: past is downhill, future is uphill, present is un-
marked for elevation and referred to as here (from 2013), e.g., yara omu (year
downhill-DISTAL) last year, year before last (2011 or 2012 with respect to 2013),
yara ngo (year HERE-PROX) the current year (2013), yara ono (year UPHILL-
PROX) coming year, next year (2014), yara onu (year UPHILL-DIST) a later year
(e.g., next year, 2015).
At the beginning of section 3, it is pointed out that specifications of addi-
tional distance and of topographic deixis cannot occur together within one

demonstrative word. If one wishes to specify additional distance and topographic

deixis, two demonstratives can occur within one noun phrase. We turn to this
issue in section 3.5.2.

3.3. Nominal demonstratives marked for current relevance and addi-

tional distance. Table 5 features the structure of nominal demonstratives
marked for current relevance and additional distance (and unmarked for gender
and number and topographic deixis).
Unlike nominal demonstratives in section 3.1, current relevance demon-
stratives in table 5 do not occur without an additional distance marker. Each
distinguish two degrees of distance: ay close to speaker and awi very far from
speaker and addressee.11

Table 5. Nominal Current Relevance Demonstratives with Two Degrees of

k proximal na ay close to speaker
wa proximal to na ay close to addressee
addressee awi very far indeed
a distal na ay far from speaker and
awi very far indeed

The marker of distance ay has different meanings depending on whether it is

used with nominal demonstratives marked or unmarked for current relevance.
If demonstratives are not marked for current relevance, ay means additional
distance only (with respect to a formally unmarked demonstrative; see table 3).
If a demonstrative bears the suffix na current relevance, ay has no con-
notations of additional distance (since formally unmarked forms without ay,
e.g., *kna, *wana, *ana, do not exist in the language). In the case of demon-
stratives marked for current relevance, ay is in a paradigmatic opposition only
with the remoteness marker awi.
Demonstratives marked for current relevance are used for spatial deixis and
have anaphoric overtones (this is consistent with the meaning of the marker
na current relevance). They do not have any meanings related to the speak-
ers attitude (unlike nominal demonstratives in section 3.1; see table 3).
Demonstratives marked for current relevance are used if a location or a
participant has been previously mentioned or talked about, or if it is something
the speaker has in mind. They can be translated with English in question, as in
the person in question (i.e., the one we are or have been talking about). Current
relevance demonstratives state that the referent is within the discourse (being
mentioned or talked about), or within the frame of attention of the participants

in a situation. Their scope is thus broader than simple anaphora, though the
analogy between the two is striking.
The demonstrative stem indicates the position of the object with respect to
the speaker, the addressee, or both. For instance, Karka:b, explaining to her
young daughter that a white woman (myself) was her classificatory mother, told
her what my name was and that I had come from far away, and then pointed at
me and uttered (28).

(28) knay amay vna

This mother (we are talking about) you are seeing.

A little girl attempted to move a chair (which we were talking about and which
was a bone of contention of sorts, since children were not allowed to play with it)
next to the fireplace where I was sitting. Her grandmother Gemaj commented by
uttering (29).

(29) wanay=a

It is the recently mentioned (chair) close to you she will bring.

Within a story, the relevant referent may occur in the previous stretch of
discourse, as in (30), where anay (DEM.DIST-CURR.REL-DIST) that mentioned
refers to a place visited by the character where he claims to have killed all the
snakes. The place was overtly mentioned two clauses earlier.

(30) anay b miyawa smrab kabay t ma:

DEM.DIST-CURR.REL-DIST already all never.ever snake have+NEG NEG
There far away (previously mentioned) there wont be any snakes at all.

A very remote location, for instance Port Moresby or Lae, can be referred to
with a distal demonstrative a accompanied with awi very far indeed if it is
being talked about and is in the focus of current conversation. Example (31)
comes from a conversation about children of many Avatip people who have
moved away and live far away in the Papua New Guinea cities (whose pictures I
had shown to them).

(31) wuna numa anaba:b a-na:wi Laem

kwana yawi
stay-ACT.FOC+3FEM.SG.SUBJ work
My oldest daughter also is there in Lae (in a far away, previously mentioned and
discussed) location, (for) work.

Examples (11)(13) above showed that the proximal and the distal demon-
stratives can have temporal reference (the proximal demonstrative refers to
present and future and the distal one to past). A current relevance demonstra-
tive can occur with time words with similar meanings. This is shown in (32)
(nonpast reference, which is ambiguous between reference to present or future
time, i.e., present-future reference, but not unequivocally present or future
reference) and (33) (past reference).

(32) knay nabi

this (present or coming) year we are/were talking about

(33) anay nabi

that (past) year we are/were talking about

No additional time distinctions can be expressed (in contrast to nominal demon-

stratives unmarked for current reference illustrated in (11)(13)).
Demonstratives marked for current relevance can have locational meanings,
but never take local cases. A demonstrative marked for current relevance used
on its own (i.e., in an NP without a noun) can acquire locational interpretation,
as is seen in (30). Example (29) could be alternatively translated as She will
bring (it, i.e., the chair) to the recently mentioned location close to you. How-
ever, the conversation revolved around the chair, so the translation given in (29)
is the appropriate one.
Nominal demonstratives marked for gender-number and current relevance
demonstratives can occur together in one noun phrase. The order is strict: a cur-
rent relevance demonstrative with no gender or number specification occurs
first and the one marked for gender and number comes next. The two comple-
ment each other, since the current relevance demonstrative does not convey
information about gender and number of the entity. We turn to this in section

3.4. Nominal demonstratives marked for current relevance and

topographic deixis. Table 6 shows the structure of nominal demonstratives
marked for current relevance and for topographic deixis. Since the marking of
current relevance is not compatible with gender and number, these categories
are not expressed. The demonstratives in table 6 are used for spatial deixis and
anaphorically, in the same way as the current relevance ones discussed in
section 3.3. Their meanings are similar to spatial demonstratives distinguishing
topographic deixis (see section 3.2). They do not refer to time, unlike the demon-
stratives in section 3.1 and section 3.3.

Table 6. Nominal Current Relevance Demonstratives with Topographic Deixis


k proximal wur up
wa proximal to d(a) down
addressee na aki across
a distal aku outwards
wula off-river, away from
the Sepik River

Just like the nominal demonstratives with directionals, these demonstra-

tives reflect the orientation frame centered on the Sepik River. For example, a
mother was concerned about her baby daughter going into a corner of the house
where some food supplies were stored, and repeatedly said (34) to the girl, who
was thought to be scared of mice. The corner of the house is located downriver
with respect to the Sepik Rivers course, which is why the direction down was

(34) wakuli wanad rna

A mouse is sitting here close to you in the mentioned (downstream) location!

In a conversation about the village and who lives in which house, Gemaj com-
mented in (35) that Wimali was living in the house (which we were discussing)
further away across from where we were.

(35) anaki wiya:m rna

(She) lives in the house in question across there.

Currently, many Manambu people follow a practice of saying a prayer before

a meal. Some do this in Tok Pisin, and some in Manambu. After a discussion
before a prayer about how to refer to God, Yabanta:kw started the prayer as in

(36) numad Mayir PAUSE [anawur numad du]NP

Big Mayir (traditional spirit), that up-there big man (currently relevant)

Two current relevance demonstratives cannot cooccur in one noun phrase.

This is unlike demonstratives unmarked for current relevance. It is shown in
section 3.5.2 below that a nominal demonstrative marked for gender-number
and topographic deixis can occur together with another one marked for gender-
number and additional distance. In (37), two demonstratives marked for current
relevance are adjacent to each other, but the presence of a brief pause (and the
meaning) indicates that they do not form one noun phrase. We were indoors

talking about going to church in general and the people (we could also see) going
to a rather far away Seventh Day Adventist church in the direction up the river.
The first demonstrative refers to the people and the second one to the church.

(37) [knay]NP PAUSE [anay haus lotu]NP


These people (in question) are going up to that far away church (in question).

If two noun phrases are immediately adjacent, and one of them contains a
demonstrative marked for gender-number and topographic deixis while the
other contains a marker of current relevance, the noun phrase with a current
relevance demonstrative typically comes after the one marked for topographic
deixis. In (38), the speaker is talking about the lands belonging to the Avatip
village. The current relevance demonstrative anaki is the last demonstrative in
this sentence, following the demonstrative alaki that is marked for number-
gender and topographic deixis. (The lake is round and thus feminine; gender
choice serves as a clear indication that the lake, and not some other part of the
landscape, is being talked about.)

(38) au kdiay nbk Apatp=adi adi an

then DEM.PROX-MASC.SG-DIST mountain Avatip=3PL.NOM DEM.DIST-PL we
Apatp anadi kp=adi, alaki ar,
Avatip we-LK-PL land=3PL.NOM DEM.DIST-FEM.SG-ACROSS lake
alk wi anaki kurdakb
So these mountains (not very far from the speaker) are of Avatip, those are our
lands, us from Avatip, that lake across there, this is why they (our ancestors)
stayed (there) having got houses across in that previously mentioned and currently
relevant place.

Specifications of gender-number and current relevance are not compatible

within one demonstrative word. So, too, are additional distance and topographic
deixis. The next section discusses how these morphological barriers are circum-
vented in the language by allowing two demonstratives to appear within one
noun phrase.

3.5. Distributing grammatical information: two demonstratives in one

noun phrase. We can recall, from section 2.3, that in Manambu two demon-
stratives can occur together in one noun phrase carrying different kinds of infor-
mation about current relevance, topographic deixis, and distance between two

grammatical words. We start with the structure of a noun phrase in section


3.5.1. The structure of a noun phrase in Manambu. Table 7 summarizes the

structure of a noun phrase in Manambu (with a maximal number of modifiers).
The structure in itself is rather unusual: quantifiers can occur either before or
after the head noun (depending on their pragmatic status; see Aikhenvald 2008:
50715); pronominal possessors can occur before or after demonstratives (but
not in both places simultaneously).
The relative position of a pronominal possessor and a demonstrative is
determined by information structure. A pronominal possessor can occur before a
demonstrative if it is focused, e.g., anad kd tp (we.PL-LK-MASC.SG DEM.
PROX-MASC.SG village) this village of ours (not anyone elses), versus kd
anad tp (DEM.PROX-MASC.SG we.PL-LK-MASC.SG village) this village of ours
(without focus). If a noun phrase contains two demonstratives, or a specifier arti-
cle and a demonstrative, a pronominal possessor has to follow a demonstrative.
Positions 2 and 4 (the alternative positions for possessors) cannot be filled simul-
taneously, nor can positions 6 and 13 (the alternative positions for quantifiers;
all other positions can be simultaneously filled.

Table 7. The Structure of a Noun Phrase in Manambu

1. Third person pronoun in article-like function
2. Pronominal possessor noun phrase
3a. Demonstrative denoting current relevance (sections 3.33.4)
3b. Demonstrative specified for direction and gender-number (sections 3.13.3)
3c. Demonstrative specified for additional distance and gender-number (sections
4. Pronominal or nominal possessor noun phrase
5. Relative clause with an inflected verb
6. Quantifier or numeral
7. Indefinite pronoun nk
8. Agreeing adjective
9. Nonagreeing adjective
10. Noun, a noun phrase, or a relative clause as a modifier
11. Head noun
12. Generic noun mwi things like this, this and other things
13. Quantifier or numeral

In many languages of the world, demonstratives occur at the edges of a noun

phrase (see Dixon 2003, 2010). They are hardly ever preceded by articles (in
somewhat the same way that English *the this man or Tariana *diha hZ tili
is ungrammatical). In Manambu, a third person pronoun in its function as a
specifier article in position 1 can occur in a noun phrase with a distal demon-
strative a in an anaphoric function marked for gender-number, but not for

direction or current relevance. In that case, the third person pronoun in its
function as a specifier article has emphatic overtones of that very one and typi-
cally refers to a highly topical participant.
In (39), from a story about a little boy who drowned in the Sepik River,
babay maternal grandmother is instrumental in looking for the boy. She was
mentioned in the text a few lines above, and is reintroduced again to as l a
babay (she DEM.DIST+FEM.SG maternal.grandmother) in (39).13 Noun phrases are
in square brackets.

(39) [l a babaywa]NP
[ad kwasade an]NP d babaywa
DEM.DIST-MASC.SG small-MASC.SG child he maternal.grandmother-COMIT
d klm ana wiyam
That small child used to stay here in our house with that very maternal
grandmother. (lit., With that very maternal grandmother that small child, he
with maternal grandmother used to stay here in our house.)

A specifier article can also be used on its own (without a demonstrative), e.g., l
ta:kw the (specific) woman. The article can be followed by just one demonstra-
tive (never by two).
We now turn to noun phrases containing two demonstratives (position 3 in
table 7).

3.5.2. Two demonstratives in one noun phrase. Two demonstratives

(never more than two, and always directly adjacent to each other) can occur
together in one noun phrase in the following four patterns: an anaphoric de-
monstrative may be followed by a demonstrative with spatial reference (section or by demonstrative in a protagonist-marking function (section,
a demonstrative marked for topographic deixis may be followed by demonstra-
tive marked for additional distance (section, or a demonstrative marked
for current relevance may be followed by demonstrative marked for gender and
number (section In the first two patterns, the demonstrative stems
always have to be different; in the last two patterns, the two demonstratives can
be the same or different. Anaphoric demonstrative followed by a demonstrative with

spatial reference. A distal demonstrative used anaphorically (see section
3.1.4) can be followed by a proximal one with spatial reference. Example (40)
comes from a narrative about the settlement of Avatip. This is where the narra-
tive was taking place, which is why it is referred to with a proximal demonstra-
tive. Avatip was mentioned a few times in the previous sentences; it is referred

to anaphorically with the proximal demonstrative (in agreement with section

3.1.4). The village is very big; this explains the masculine gender choice (see
section 2.1).

(40) [ad kd tp]NP


atawan=a rku kka

kwabana samasama duta:kw ya
stay-1PL.SUBJ+3FEM.SG.MANNER many+LK man-woman EMPH
After that (previously mentioned) this village (where we are, i.e., Avatip) stayed
that way, we stayed, many men and women. Anaphoric demonstrative followed by demonstrative in a

protagonist-marking function. We can recall that a proximal demonstra-
tive is used to introduce and maintain reference to a protagonist in a story
(section 3.1.5). Miyag is a main character in the story from which (41) comes; he
is referred to this Miyag throughout the story. In (41), he is also referred to
anaphorically as that Miyag, since he has not been mentioned for seven

(41) [ad kd Miyag] PAUSE Nbmi


That (previously mentioned) this (protagonist) Miyag, Nebemi is his elder. Demonstrative marked for topographic deixis followed by

demonstrative marked for additional distance. Two demonstratives can
be used in one noun phrase to express categories that are not compatible within
one grammatical word. One such pattern combines topographic deixis and addi-
tional distance (in this section; see also sections 3.13.2); the other pattern of
this sort combines current relevance and gender-number (section; see
also sections 3.33.4).
A demonstrative specifying topographic deixis may be followed by a demon-
strative that contains a marker of additional distance. As with the other kinds of
combinations of demonstratives within a single noun phrase, no other consti-
tuents can intervene between the two demonstratives and there is no pause.
This indicates that they are within one noun phrasein square brackets in (42).

(42) [adiawur adiay warag]NP PAUSE asaybr


vyawardal ma:j=a waktua

hit-go.up-3PL.SUBJ-3FEM.SG.LOC story=3FEM.SG tell-FUT-1SG.SUBJ+3FEM.SG.OBJ
It is a story I will tell about how those far away ancestors from up river, fathers,
fought and went up. Demonstrative marked for current relevance followed by

demonstrative marked for gender and number. A demonstrative specify-
ing current relevance may be followed by a demonstrative that contains a mark-
er of gender and number (and, optionally, a marker of additional distance). No
other constituents can intervene between the two. An example is seen in (43).

(43) an [knay kday numad


wiya:m]NP kwan yawi kurnadian

house+LK+LOC stay-SEQ work do-ACT.FOC-1PL.SUBJ
We are working staying in this-previously-mentioned (talked about) this-further-
away big house.

Alternatively, one demonstrative can be marked for current relevance and the
other one for gender-number and topographic deixis, as in (44). We were talking
about going to visit another village by canoe; example (44) was the answer to a
question about which canoe we are going to take. The canoe was close to us.

(44) [knay klaki vala:r]NP


The two of us will go with this (spoken about) canoe across (from us).

Different demonstrative stems can occur together, with one marked for
current relevance and the other one for gender and number. Example (45) comes
from a conversation about totemic ownership of objects and heavenly bodies,
especially the moon (conceived of as a totemic woman, hence its name moon-
woman); as the moon appeared up in the sky, a speaker produced (45). In this
example, a sequence of two demonstratives, knay alawur, modifies moon
(moon is a totemic woman and so triggers feminine agreement on the second
demonstrative), but is postposed to the verb as an afterthought (signaled by a
brief pause after the verb). The first demonstrative in this sequence expresses
the fact that the moon had been recently mentioned, while the second expresses
the fact that the moon was up in the sky (at some distance from us).

(45) [bapata:kw]NP aka warna

PAUSE [knay alawur]NP
Moon woman (previously mentioned and currently relevant up there) is going up.

The order of demonstratives in sequences like this is fixed.

The options in sections and differ from those in sections and in one important way. Under the first two options, two de-
monstratives marked just for gender-number (in anaphoric or discourse func-
tion) have to have different roots. The same demonstrative root cannot occur in
one noun phrase (if two demonstratives with the same root are adjacent to each
other, they can be shown to belong to different noun phrases, as in (19a)). Under
the second two options, the same demonstrative stems can occur within one
noun phrase (as shown in (42)(44)).
In each case, two demonstratives can be shown to form one noun phrase
with the noun head. First, there is no pause between them (this is unlike the
instances where adjacent demonstratives do not form one noun phrase, as in
(37)). Secondly, no other element can intervene between them and the head
noun. As is expected within a noun phrase, demonstratives agree with the head
noun in number and gender.
Having two demonstratives in one noun phrase is cross-linguistically
uncommon. Just a few languages allow cooccurrence of two demonstratives
one anaphoric, one deicticin one noun phrase, similarly to what is seen for
Manambu in section Example (46) comes from Witoto Murui, a Witoto
language from Colombia (Wojtylak 2013). The order of modifiers is the same as
in Manambuthe anaphoric form precedes the deictic one.

(46) [ie baie daje rio]NP

that (previously mentioned) woman

In (47), from Mavea, an Oceanic language from Vanuatu (Gurin 2013, 2010),
the order is the opposite.

(47) naavtai ro naon [maler neler]NP

1SG-appear here 1SG-look DISTAL-PL ANAPHORIC-PL
I came out when I saw these ones.

Similar instances of cooccurrence of a proximal deictic (presentational) demon-

strative and an anaphoric demonstrative have been described for Djambarr-
puyu, an Australian language (Wilkinson 2012:268); they can occur in either
Murui Witoto, Mavea, and Djambarrpuyu have special anaphoric-only
demonstratives that can occur in one noun phrase with deictic demonstratives.
In Manambu, a deictic demonstrative in an anaphoric function can occur to-
gether with another demonstrative in a deictic function. This is a major point
of difference between Manambu, on the one hand, and Murui Witoto, Mavea,
and Djambarrpuyu, on the other. In addition, an anaphoric demonstrative in
Manambu can occur with a demonstrative whose function is to highlight the

protagonist (as in section, that is, to regulate the information structure
and help tracking a prominent participant.
The Manambu options seen in sections and are cross-
linguistically unusual. In the first of these, the information on topographic
deixis (direction and elevation) and additional distance is distributed between
two adjacent demonstrative words. In the second, gender-number and current
relevance are also distributed between two demonstratives, rather than being
expressed within one word.15
Marking current relevance in a demonstrative system is cross-linguistically
rare. The incompatibility of marking current relevance and gender-number in
one demonstrative word in Manambu is at present no more than a curious idio-
The necessity to express additional distance and topographic deixis in differ-
ent demonstrative words stems from a dependency between these two categor-
ies. This is the topic of the next section.

3.5.3. Dependencies between topographic deixis and distance: a

typological excursus. The choices available within one category in a
language may correlate with choices made in others. For instance, there may be
fewer tense choices in negative than in positive polarity (see Aikhenvald and
Dixon [1998] for examples of correlations between grammatical systems involv-
ing tense, aspect, number, gender, etc.).
Distance from the speaker and sometimes the addressee is a feature of many
systems of nominal demonstratives. A number of languages have additional dis-
tinctions within a demonstrative system that involve topographic deixis (cover-
ing relative height, stance, and direction uphill, downhill, upriver, downriver,
etc.). Topographic deixis is a prominent feature of Daghestanian (Northeast
Caucasian), Tibeto-Burman, Australian, and Austroasiatic languages, and
languages from Papua New Guinea and the Pacific (especially those spoken in
hilly environments: see also Palmer 2002; Burenhult 2008 and Heeschen 1982).
Topographic deixis can be dependent on choices made within distance
(proximal or distal). A close look at grammatical descriptions of about one hun-
dred languages from these areas with topographic deixis in nominal demon-
stratives shows three patterns.
One pattern is that topographic distinctions are made for all the distance
specifications in nominal demonstratives. For example, in Nungon, a Finisterre-
Huon language spoken in Morobe province of Papua New Guinea, both the near
distance demonstrative o and the far distance demonstrative u combine with
three sets of elevational markers (Sarvasy 2014), as in table 8.
Topographic distinctions are made for all distance specifications for Eipo
and Yale (Papuan languages of West Papua [Heeschen 1982]), and a number of
Northeast Caucasian languages, including Tindi, Akhvakh, and Chamalal
(Magomedova 2000: 429; Magomedbekova 1967a:343, 1967b:374).

Table 8. Elevational Markers in Nungon

omo ogo ono
downhill-PROXIMAL level-PROXIMAL uphill-PROXIMAL
this downhill this same level this uphill

omu ogu onu
downhill-FAR level-FAR uphill-FAR
that downhill that same level that uphill

SOURCE: Sarvasy (2014:40514, 440).

The second pattern is that demonstrative forms that code topographic

distinctions do not code distance specifications and vice versa. For example,
Kurtp, a Tibeto-Burman language from Bhutan, has a five-term system of
nominal demonstratives shown in table 9. (Semantic differences between the
two proximal demonstratives require further study.) The first three demon-
stratives in the table code distance distinctions, while the other two code topo-
graphic notions while providing no information about distance.

Table 9. Nominal Demonstratives in Kurtp

wo Proximal demonstrative: proximity to deictic center (frequently the speaker)
wozi Proximal demonstrative: proximity to deictic center
wudi Distal demonstrative (distance from the deictic center)
wome Down demonstrative: location below the deictic center
woye Up demonstrative: location above the deictic center

SOURCE: Hyslop (2011:37680).

The third pattern is that topographic distinctions may be made within some,
but not all, degrees of distance. For example, in Galo, a Tibeto-Burman language
of northern India, three distinctions in height are distinguished only in distal
demonstratives (Post 2011, 2007:34468). Table 10 shows the classification of
demonstratives in Galo (the forms given as examples are the core argument
form). The same distinctions are found in adverbial demonstratives.16

Table 10. Nominal Demonstratives in Galo

PROXIMAL to speaker h
to addressee
DISTAL same level as speaker or unknown level a
upwards from the speaker t
downward from the speaker b

HYPERDISTAL same level as speaker or unknown level a

(very far) upwards from the speaker t
downward from the speaker b
MEGADISTAL same level as speaker or unknown level a
(very, very far) upwards from the speaker t
downward from the speaker b

Source: Post (2007:345).

Along similar lines, Lak, a Northeast Caucasian language spoken in Daghestan

distinguishes height and direction (up and down) only for the distal that, as in
table 11.
Table 11. Demonstratives in Lak
va this (close to speaker)
mu close to addressee, within the sphere of the addressee
ta that far from both speaker and addressee
qa that one higher than the speaker
ga that one lower than the speaker

SOURCE: Zhirkov (1955:7172); Murkelinskij (1967:497).

Archi, another Northeast Caucasian language (Kibrik 1977:124), also distin-

guishes elevation just for distal demonstratives. Mavea, an Oceanic language
from Vanuatu, distinguishes directionals only in distal locational demonstra-
tives, as shown in table 12.

Table 12. Demonstratives in Mavea

aro/kon(a)ro here, at speakers location
aine/konain(e) there, at addressees location
ale/konale there, away from both interlocutors, closer to addressee than
to speaker
atu/konatu over there, away from both interlocutors
atisi(vo)/konatisi(vo) far away from speaker and addressee, down
atisa/konatisa far away from speaker and addressee, up
ativa/konativa far away from speaker and addressee, across

SOURCE: Gurin (2010:84, 2013)

Similarly, in Eibela (or Aimele), a Papuan language from Western province of

Papua New Guinea (as is reported by Aiton [2014]) three degrees of eleva-
tionsame, higher, and lowerare distinguished for distal adverbial demon-
stratives (there are separate forms for anaphors, and for proximate and for
distal without elevation).
In all these instances of the third pattern, the availability of topographic
deixis for nominal demonstratives depends on the choice made with regard

to spatial distance. In all the relevant examples, more distinctions in topo-

graphic deixis are made in distal demonstratives than in proximal ones. Follow-
ing the notation for the dependencies between grammatical systems outlined in
Aikhenvald and Dixon (1998), this dependency can be stated as (48).


The interrelation between topographic deixis and spatial distance in Ma-

nambu warrants a partial explanation in terms of dependency between the
grammatical systems of distance and of deixis. Markers of topographic deixis in
Manambu can occur with each of the three basic demonstrative stems (proximal
to speaker, proximal to addressee, and distal from both), similar to languages
following the first pattern (topographic distinctions made for all distance speci-
fications). However, in Manambu, unlike other languages that follow this pat-
tern, the marking of additional distance and of topographic deixis are mutually
exclusive within one grammatical word. This is reminiscent of languages of the
second type, where demonstratives expressing topographic deixis constitute a
separate set independent from demonstratives marked for distance.
Markers of topographic deixis in Manambu demonstratives can only occur
on forms unmarked for additional distance. That is, the choice of marking for
topographic deixis depends on the choice made in the demonstrative system
marked for distance. This is a feature Manambu shares with languages of the
third type, partly conforming to the dependency in (48).
In addition to directionals on demonstratives, Manambu has a complex sys-
tem of directionals on verbs (see Aikhenvald 2008:21315, 495). In the majority
of cases, verbal directional markers do not attach directly to the verbal root: they
are suffixed to a dummy root s.
Directional markers on verbs and markers of topographic deixis on de-
monstratives17 distinguish directions upward (marked somewhat differently on
demonstratives and on verbs), downward, across, outwards, and inwards (all
marked similarly on demonstratives and on verbs). In addition, directionals
with verbs distinguish motion towards the speaker (absent from demonstra-
tives) and two types of motion sideways. These differences can be accounted for
by the fact that directionals on verbs are inherently associated with motion,
while with demonstratives they refer to location in space. Directionals on verbs
can have idiosyncratic meaning, e.g., wasaki (talk-across.away.from.speaker)
to tell a traditional story and kiyasaki (die-across.away.from.speaker) half-
die, almost die. Such extensions are not found with directionals on demonstra-
tives. A verb can contain two directionals, while a demonstrative cannot.
Topographic deixis in Manambu demonstratives (and verbs) offers no un-
marked, or neutral, choice. This is in contrast to some other systems, such as
the one exemplified for Galo (see table 10) where the same-level distal demon-
strative is a neutral choice used if the speaker does not have any information
about the height or elevation.18

4. Manner adverbial demonstratives. Manner demonstratives in Manam-

bu are relatively simple compared to nominal demonstratives. They deploy two
of the stems found in nominal demonstratives: k close to speaker and a
distal, e.g., ktawa this way, like this and atawa that way, thus, like that.
These forms can be used for pointing, and can also be used anaphorically and
cataphorically.19 In addition, reduplication of k creates a form kktawa
exactly like this that is only used for pointing. A compound form aktawa
like this is used only for textual and substitution anaphora. Manner adverbial
demonstratives are listed in table 13.

Table 13. Manner Adverbial Demonstratives

k close to speaker kktawa like this very one pointing only
ktawa like this (pointing) pointing, substitution
anaphora and cataphora
a distal atawa like that pointing, substitution
anaphora and cataphora
a distal plus aktawa (variant: akatawa) substitution and textual
k close to speaker anaphora only

All manner demonstratives are used as modifiers to verbs. Only atawa and
akatawa can modify the noun sa:d manner (and its equivalents in Tok Pisin
kain, pasin, which are frequently used in code-switching).
When a manner demonstrative of these heads a predicate, or is part of
predicate focus, it takes the predicative marker n (as in (40)). The forms ktawa
and atawa may be used for cataphora; we can recall that nominal demonstra-
tives cannot be used this way.
Both ktawa and atawa can be used for pointing, typically indicating the
way in which something is to be done. If the action is happening close to the
speaker, ktawa is used, as in (49). This sentence was used to point the way
(with a torch in the dark); on another occasion, this same sentence was an
instruction to walk in a special way on a narrow log crossing a pond.

(49) ktawa ma:y, ma:n kutukwayn

like.this go.IMPV leg put.criss.cross-SEQ
Go like this way, like this, putting your feet criss-cross. (either showing how to
walk, or pointing the way to go)

The girl who was instructing me to follow a path in the dark was not satisfied
with my progress. She rephrased (49), rather irritated, as (50), using kktawa
exactly like this (like I am showing).

(50) kktawa ma:y

RED-like.this go.IMPV
Go exactly like this. (pointing the way to go)

The distal demonstrative atawa is used to refer to the way in which some-
thing is done further away from the speaker, as in (51). A child was commanded
to walk the way her sister was walking a few yards away.

(51) atawa titiyan ma:y

like.that walking go.IMPV
Walk like that!

Distal atawa like that is often used anaphorically, as in (40) and (52) (also see
the example in n. 9).

(52) agwajapk atawa kurnadmn

what-thing+LK+DAT like.that do-ACT.FOC-2MASC.SG.SUBJ
Why have you acted like that (against your younger brother)?

Proximal ktawa often refers anaphorically to the manner or way in which

something is done. Example (53) comes from a story about two white men who
had come to take a picture of Gemaj as a little girl (she is now in her late seven-
ties). They are telling her to go down (to the river) dressed in exactly the way she
was dressed.

(53) ktawa adi:d

like.this go.down.IMPV
You go down like this (dressed as you are now).

Both proximal and distal manner demonstratives can be used for textual
anaphora and cataphora. If the stretch of text to which the demonstrative refers
follows it immediately, ktawa is used; for example, (54) was followed by the
story referred to.

(54) nk wasakima:j ktawa wana

other+FEM.SG say-ACROSS-story like.this say-ACT.FOC+3FEM.SG.SUBJ
Another story (which goes across generations) goes like this.

If the stretch of text does not follow immediately, atawa is preferred (as long-
distance anaphora or cataphora). Another frequent usage of atawa is to refer to
a long stretch of text, as a summary thus (mirroring the summarizing function
of the distal demonstrative a shown in (22)). Example (55) summarizes a dis-
cussion of how an ugly man could not get himself a wife, and so was nasty to his
friends because of jealousy.

(55) atawadka dy adika tddi

Just like that he was with respect to them (his friends).

This is also an example of textual anaphoraatawa refers to a stretch of pre-

vious discourse. The way in which ktawa and atawa are used anaphorically
mirrors the principles described for the anaphoric use of nominal demonstra-
tives k proximal and a distal in section 3.1.4. The proximal stem refers to
something or someone recently mentioned and the distal one to what was men-
tioned less recently.
Manambu has several other adverbs based on the demonstrative roots k
proximal demonstrative and a distal demonstrative. These are a free form
kta now and a bound form kta like this, and a free form ata thus, then,
speech report introducer and a bound form ata like that. The bound forms
atan and ktan in combination with pk like can be used as prehead modi-
fiers, as in (56).

(56) nkdi Spik kudi [kta-npka buk]NP ma:

other-PL Sepik language like.this-PRED-LIKE-LK book NEG
Other Sepik languages do not have a book like this. (showing the Manambu
grammar at the book presentation in Avatip, 23 September 2013)

The form ata has a number of other, nondeictic functions. It is frequent as a

sentence and paragraph sequencing device and as a speech report introducer. A
combination of ata with the verb say marked with the cotemporaneous se-
quencing suffix ta:y, atawa:tay has undergone reinterpretation as an adverb
meaning thus, and so. That the distal manner demonstrative has a larger
number of additional meanings than the proximal indicates that it may be con-
sidered a functionally unmarked term in the system.

5. Summary and remarks on markedness. Demonstratives in Manambu

are a powerful device in spatial orientation and the organization of discourse.
Their functions go beyond spatial reference: they are instrumental in tracking
participants and organizing information structure, offering an array of means
speakers can exploit at will in molding their discourse and interaction (as
Mithun puts it [1987:193]).
Manambu nominal demonstratives deploy three demonstrative stems (close
to speaker, close to addressee, and distal). Manner adverbial demonstratives
use two stems (they lack the close to addressee stem; see table 13), but have an
additional form with the meaning very close to the speaker. Manner demon-
stratives have no further distinctions in distance or topographic deixis. Nominal
and manner demonstratives can be used for anaphora; only manner demonstra-
tives are used cataphorically.

Nominal demonstratives display further intricacies. Each of close to speak-

er and distal can take three additional distance specifications. The term close
to addressee can take just two additional distance specifications. Only two of
the three demonstrative stems (close to speaker and distal) can refer to time
as well as to space.
Each of the three nominal demonstrative stems can occur with one of the
five additional specifications for topographic deixis mutually exclusive with
additional distance. Topographic deixis in Manambu demonstratives reflect
the hilly and river-oriented environment, as do directional markers on verbs.
However, the latter constitute a larger set than do the topographic markers on
nominal demonstratives, and refer to the direction of motion (and not to the
location of an object).
Manambu has a further unusual distinction in its demonstrative system.
A special set of current relevance demonstratives refer to something the
speaker has been talking about or has in mind. These demonstratives cannot
take gender-number or case, and have fewer distance distinctions than other
Two nominal demonstratives can occur together in one noun phrase. An
anaphoric demonstrative can be followed by a demonstrative referring to spatial
position of an entity, or by a demonstrative marking a protagonist in a story (see
sections and
Or the information about topographic deixis and distancewhich cannot be
expressed in one demonstrative wordcan be distributed between two words
(see section Alternatively, one demonstrative within a noun phrase can
include information about current relevance and the other about gender and
number (see section This distribution of information within a noun
phrase is typologically unusual.
The correlation between distance and topographic deixis in Manambu de-
monstratives is reminiscent of a number of Tibeto-Burman and Northeast Cau-
casian languages. The expression of topographic deixis in demonstratives partly
depends on the choice made in distance specification.
Proximal and distal demonstratives unmarked for additional distance or
topographic deixis have a number of special uses. The proximal form k occurs
as a marker of surprise and is deployed as a hesitation form when a speaker
cannot remember the name or the identity of a human participant (see section
The distal demonstrative a marks turn-taking, and acts as a summarizing
device and conversation sustainer. It occurs in a further variety of forms, in-
cluding connective a then, so. The dative feminine form of the distal demon-
strative is used as a sentence connective alk (DEM.DIST-FEM.SG-DAT) this is
why (see example (38)). The distal manner demonstrative atawa is used as a
discourse-summarizing device. The form ata thus, which contains the distal
demonstrative stem a, is a speech introducer and also a connective meaning

then (also see Aikhenvald 2011). This raises the question of markedness rela-
tionships within the Manambu demonstrative system.
There is a fundamental distinction between two kinds of markedness
formal and functional. A formally unmarked term will be the only one in its sys-
tem to have zero realization (or a zero allomorph). Functional markedness re-
lates to the situation of usethe marked term or terms may be used each in a
restricted, specifiable situation, with the unmarked term being used in all other
circumstances. The unmarked category is the one most frequently used (or the
one that is used at least as frequently as each marked one). It is also the one
which appears in neutralized contexts or when one does not wish to be specific.
In some languages (including Mandarin Chinese and Telugu), the distal form
can be shown to be the functionally unmarked choice. In others, the proximal
form appears in more contexts than the distal one and may thus be a candidate
for an unmarked status (see Keevallik [2010] on Estonian, and Dixon [2003:
9394] for a discussion of markedness in demonstrative systems).
We thus expect that a functionally unmarked demonstrative will be used
in more contexts than the functionally marked one, and moreover that it will
develop further extensions and meanings (e.g., be used anaphorically), and have
temporal or discourse overtones. The Manambu a distal demonstrative is a
prime candidate for a functionally unmarked choice due to its many functions
additional to deictic uses, that is, as a connective, in general summarizing state-
ments, and in conversation sustainers. However, the use of proximal demonstra-
tives in word retrieval and interjection contexts points in a different direction.
Both proximal and distal demonstratives (without any specification for addi-
tional distance or topographic deixis) are unmarked choices, albeit in different

Acknowledgments. I am grateful to my Manambu family for teaching me their
remarkable language. A preliminary version of this article was presented at the
Language and Culture Research Centre Local Workshop Demonstratives and Direc-
tionals (201314), based on typological parameters outlined in the Initial Orientation
paper by the author. Special thanks go to R. M. W. Dixon for incisive comments and
critiques, to Diana Forker for supplying me with information on Daghestanian
languages, and to all the participants of the Language and Culture Research Centre
Local Workshop on Demonstratives and Directionals for discussion and inspiration.
Thanks are due to Brigitta Flick for careful proofreading.
Abbreviations. The conventions of glossing in this article generally follow those of
Aikhenvald (2008). ACT.FOC = action focus marker on verbs; ALL = allative; CL = classifier;
COMIT = comitative; CURR.REL = current relevance demonstrative; DAT = dative; DEM.DIST
= distal demonstrative; DEM . PROX = proximal demonstrative; DEM . PROX . ADDR =
demonstrative denoting proximity to addressee; DIST = marker of additional distance; DS
= different-subject switch reference marker; DU = dual; EMPH = emphatic marker; FEM =
feminine; FUT = future; HAB = habitual; IMPV = imperative; INSTR = instrumental; LK =
linker; LOC = locative; MASC = masculine; NEG = negation; NOM = nominal cross-
referencing; OBJ = object marker on verbs; OBL = oblique marker; P = person; PL = plural;

PRED = predicative marker; PURP = purposive; REACT.TOP = reactivated topic demon-

strative; RED = reduplication; SEQ = sequential; SG = singular; SS = same-subject switch-
reference marker; SUBJ = subject marker on verbs; TERM = terminative case. In gram-
matical glosses a plus sign (+) connects glosses of morphemes that are phonologically
fused. A full stop or a period (.) separates elements of glosses of single morphemes.
Transcription. In the orthography used here for Manambu, which is the same as
that in the published grammar (Aikhenvald 2008), b stands for [mb], d stands for [nd], g
stands for [ng], and j stands for [nj].
1. Demonstratives differ from first and second person pronouns, whose shifting
reference involves implicit pointing. A fourth grammatical type of demonstrative is
verbal demonstrativesa closed subclass of verbs, which can occur as the only verb in a
predicate, or accompanied by a lexical verb from an open class, with a broad meaning do
it like this or be like this. This type is comparatively rare; it has been attested in a
number of Australian, Papuan, Oceanic, Omotic, and South-American languages (see
Dixon 2003, 2010:22931; Gurin 2015). Possible additional types of demonstratives are
mentioned by Dixon (2003:62). Earlier typological studies of demonstratives include
Diessel (1999), Himmelmann (1996), and Levinson (2003).
2. This type of deixis is termed geophysical in Burenhults (2008) typology of
spatial deixis. The term topographic deixis has recently gained wide currency, especial-
ly in linguistic literature on Tibeto-Burman and Papuan languages.
3. This article, just like all my work on Manambu, is based on narratives, conversa-
tions, and spontaneous interaction recorded over the last twenty years of immersion
fieldwork (the corpus consists of about 300,000 words). I avoid elicitation; note that none
of the examples quoted here are elicited. Most of my fieldwork has been conducted in
Avatip (dialect differences between the Manambu villages are minor and do not concern
demonstratives). Basic facts about the Manambu demonstratives and systems of
orientation can be found in the previously published full grammar (Aikhenvald 2008:
20021). This article expands on this analysis and places the system in a typological
perspective, based on extended corpora of Manambu and further fieldwork.
4. The Sepik River Basin is home to around two hundred languages (a dozen lan-
guage families and numerous isolates). The Ndu family is the largest in terms of
numbers of speakers; its other members include Iatmul, Yalaku (or Yelogu), Gala, the
Ambulas-Wosera dialect continuum, and Boiken (see Aikhenvald 2008, 2009). Harrison
(1990) provides a comprehensive account of traditional Manambu culture and society
(based on fieldwork conducted in the 1980s).
5. The phonology of Manambu is addressed in the published grammar (Aikhenvald
6. A further cross-linguistically uncommon set of reactivated topic demonstratives in
Manambu was discussed in the grammar (Aikhenvald 2008:21922).
7. Index finger pointing can be accompanied with eye movement and head tilt for
objects that are further away. There are no other pointing gestures (such as the nose-
pointing described by Cooperrider and Nez [2012] for the Yupno of Morobe Province;
also see Wilkins [2003] for a discussion of various pointing techniques).
8. A number of such examples can be found in stories, e.g., example (10.15) in
Aikhenvald (2008:203), and also in conversations.
9. The explanation by another speaker was phrased as (i).
(i) nakd=ad, alk
atawa wana
It (the area) is yours, this is why she said (it) that way.

10. An alternative explanation is possible, as follows. Many Ndu languages have a

negator containing a velar stop, e.g., Iatmul kai and Wosera kaapuk no, existential
negator. (The only negator with a velar stop in Manambu is aks habitual negator,
possibly cognate to Yalaku heket no, existential negator). We cannot exclude the
possibility that the negative ka! in Manambu is in fact a reflex of a Proto-Ndu *()k
negator, and thus a homonym of the proximal demonstrative (homonymy is pervasive in
Manambu as a result of innovative phonological changes [see Aikhenvald 2008:59394]).
11. The very far form of the proximal demonstrative k (knawi) was not attested
in texts or conversations. When I asked about it, speakers confirmed that it exists, but
they never used it (this is why it is not included in table 5).
12. Haus lotu is a Tok Pisin term for church.
13. The sequence l a is pronounced as la in normal to rapid speech (see Aikhenvald
2008:5556). See Aikhenvald (2008:513) for similar examples.
14. Cutfield (2011:198212) describes sequences of two demonstratives in one clause
in Dalabon, an Australian language. However, unlike Manambu, Witoto Murui, and
Djambarrpuyu, two demonstratives in one clause in Dalabon always appear to have
different syntactic functions and do not belong to one noun phrase.
15. This distribution of information is reminiscent of distributive preferences in a
number of Papuan languages (including Kombai, Korowai, and several others as outlined
by de Vries [2006]). In particular, a noun phrase would tend to have no more than one
modifier. Two fat pigs would be expressed as two pigs, fat pigs, distributing modifiers
across noun phrases. However, in Manambu, distribution of information applies only to
demonstratives (we see in table 7 that there can be numerous modifiers in a noun phrase;
see also Aikhenvald 2008:50715).
16. Many Tibeto-Burman, Papuan, and Northeast Caucasian languages distinguish
directionals elsewhere in the grammar, but not on demonstratives. For instance, Ersu, a
Tibeto-Burman language from China, has a complex system of directionals on verbs, but
none on demonstratives (Zhang 2013). In New Guinea, Alamblak, a Sepik Hill language
spoken in the Sepik region (unrelated to Manambu, but showing similarities to it) like-
wise has a complex system of directional markers and locational (elevational) markers on
verbs, and none on demonstratives (Bruce 1984).
17. Directionals on verbs are attested in a number of related languages from the
Ndu family (e.g., Abelam-Wosera [Wilson 1980; Wendel 1993], Yalaku [or Yelogu; own
fieldwork], and Iatmul [Jendraschek 2012]), with meanings and forms similar to
Manambu. The Korogo variety of Iatmul also appears to mark topographic deixis on
demonstratives. However, the set is smaller than that in Manambu, and the existing
grammar sketch (Jendraschek 2012) provides little detail on the way demonstratives are
used and how topographic deixis correlates with other parameters, including distance.
Directionals appear to occur only on distal demonstratives in Yalaku (this requires
further study). I hypothesize that the Manambu system of topographic deixis on demon-
stratives is an innovation.
18. Other choices are also available. In Lak, the downward, lower than the speaker
demonstrative appears to be used as a simple demonstrative (Zhirkov 1955:71), that is,
as an unmarked choice.
19. The origin of the formative ta is unknown. The formative wa could be related
to the comitative case marker wa (see section 2.1), which can mark manner (Aikhenvald

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