See you next Tuesday : a study of temporal deictic modifiers "next" and "last"

University essay from Lunds universitet/Engelska

Abstract: This essay examines the interpretation of deictic modifiers next and last in combination with propositionally termed days and months. The investigation aimed to show in what instances these expressions can be interpreted as ambiguous, and what influence temporal distance has on this. The experiment was done by producing a number of items with varying temporal distance between imagined coding time and the first possible answer alternative. The conclusion that can be drawn, much in line with Levinson’s (1983) theory, is that the deictic modifiers next and last are interpreted as most ambiguous by the participants when there is a medium temporal distance between coding time and answer alternatives (3-4 days or 5-7 months), and least ambiguous when it is the shortest possible temporal distance between coding time and answer alternatives (1 day or 1 month).

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