Demonstrative Pronouns are used to help point out and/or differentiate third person referents within the physical or discourse context.  In the first case, Demonstratives are used to point to specific people or things visible to the speech act participants (e.g. “I want that book (over there).” [said while pointing at the intended book]). This is referred to as deixis or the deictic use of demontrative pronouns when first establishing a discourse referent by way of its physical presence (and general location).  In contrast, demonstratives can refer to already mentioned participants (e.g. “that wolf (we were talking about) is crafty”, and thus represent the feature of definiteness (indicating to the addressee that you should know which wolf is being referred to from earlier context).

 

Basic Demonstratives

English has a fairly simple four-way division of demonstrative pronouns based on number (singular and plural) and distance from the speaker (close to the speaker (or “proximal“) and not close or “distal“) as represented in the following demonstrative paradigm.

(1)                        English Demonstrative Pronouns

number
singular

plural

distance

proximal / close

this

these

distal / not close that

those

 

In contrast to this, Cree has a more complex demonstrative system which includes the familiar number distinction of singular versus plural, but adds three additional features. First, instead of a two-way division of distance as in English, Cree has a three-way distinction which differentiates proximal (“close to the speaker”), medial (“somewhat further from the speaker”) and distal (“quite a distance away from the speaker”). Thus, combining number with this three-way distinction of distance, we reach a basic six-way paradigm. Second, the all-important category of gender (animate versus inanimate) must also be represented, yielding six forms of inanimate demonstrative and six basic forms of animate demonstrative. Third, among the animate demonstratives, an additional set of obviative demonstratives (non-specific as to number) can be added, although these are identical to the inanimate plural demonstratives.  Thus, the full Plains Cree demonstrative paradigms, inanimate and animate, are given in (2) and (3) respectively:

(2)                        Cree Inanimate Demonstrative Pronouns

number

singular

plural

distance

proximal / close ōma

‘this’

ōhi

‘these’

medial / not close

anima

‘that’

anihi

‘those’

distal / further nēma

‘that yonder’

nēhi

‘those yonder’

 

(3)                        Cree Animate Demonstrative Pronouns

number

singular plural

obviative

distance

proximal / close awa

‘this’

ōki

‘these’

ōhi

‘this/these’

medial / not close

ana

‘that’

aniki

‘those’

anihi

‘that/those’

distal / further

nāha

‘that yonder’

nēki

‘those yonder’

nēhi

‘that/those yonder’

[Please Note: the exact form of these pronouns may differ slightly from Plains Cree community to community and certainly across dialects in Woods Cree, Swampy Cree, etc.  For instance, what is represented here as the proximal animate plural ōki “these (animate) ones” can be variously pronounced as ōko, ōkik, or ōkok.]

 

Demonstrative pronouns can occur alone to represent participants, as in (4), or accompany nouns in fuller Noun Phrases (in square brackets [ ]), as in (5).

(4)    a)      nika-otinēn ōma.       “I will take this (inanimate one).”

 b)      nika-otināw awa.      “I will take this (animate one).”

 

(5)    a)      nika-otinēn [ōma mōhkomān].       “I will take [this knife].”

 b)      nika-otināw [awa kinosēw].            “I will take [this fish].”

Note that when demonstratives occur with nouns within noun phrases, they typically occur before the noun (though this is not strictly always the case). When a noun co-occurs with a following demonstrative pronoun as a full utterance, the demonstrative is interpreted like a subject and the noun is a predicate (i.e. this is no longer a noun phrase, but an entire sentence without any (copular ‘be’) verb required).

(6)    a)    mōhkomān ōma.             “This is a knife.”

 b)    kinosēw awa.                    “This is a fish.”

Though the word order here is quite different than in English, it might help English speakers to think of how Yoda would say (6a): “a knife this (is)”.

 

Furthermore, as with Cree personal pronouns, the demonstratives are not specific to the role that the referent plays in the sentence (i.e. subject or object are not differentiated), as shown in (7). This is, in fact, a featured shared with English where “this (one)” can be subject or object.

(7)    a)    awa nimiywēyimāw.             “I like this (animate) one.”

 b)    awa nimiywēyimik.              “This (animate) one likes me.”

Examples like these also show that demonstrative pronouns serve to represent third person referents, and there is considerable overlap, for instance, between the third person singular personal pronoun wiya and the third person animate singular demonstrative pronouns awa/ana/nāha, as well as between the respective plurals wiyawāw and ōki/aniki/nēki.

 

The same pattern that is found in these demonstrative pronouns is also present in locative proforms.  In this sense, we might consider the following locative proforms to be forms of case-marked demonstratives. Remember that locatives cannot be marked for number.

(8)                        Cree Locative Proforms

location

precise

general

distance

proximal / close

ōta

‘here’

ōtē

‘over here’

medial / not close anita

‘there’

anitē

‘over there’

distal / further

(nēta)

‘there yonder’

nētē

‘way over there yonder’

[Note: the locatives represented here occur in two closely related forms ending in -(i)ta and -(i)tē, where the difference represents a precise location versus a more general area.  The form nēta is recorded but is not at all common.]

 

Topical Demonstratives

In addition to the basic demonstrative pronouns, Cree also has a smaller set of demonstrative pronouns which do not specify physical distance but which are specialized to refer back to referents that have already been introduced within the discourse. As such, when these forms are used, the speaker is signalling to her audience that the referent is known to them or is topical within the discourse. These topical demonstratives occur in inanimate, animate and locative forms, as given respectively here in (9), (10), and (11):

(9)                        Cree Inanimate Topical Demonstratives

number
singular

plural

topical ēwako

‘that aforementioned one’

ē(wa)koni

‘those aforementioned ones’

 

(10)                        Cree Animate Topical Demonstratives

number
singular plural

obviative

proximal / close ēwako

‘that aforementioned one’

ē(wa)konik

‘those aforementioned ones’

ē(wa)koni

‘that/those aforementioned ones’

 

(11)                        Cree Topical Locatives

locative
precise

general

topical

(“aforementioned”)

ēkota

‘there’

(‘at that aforementioned place’)

ēkotē

‘over there’

(‘over at that aforementioned place’)

[Note: these pronouns/proforms are all built on a basic element of the form ē(wa)ko (or ēwakw-).  In fact, ēwako is the form that stands for both the animate and inanimate singular topical demonstrative (which can appear reduced in speech to simply ēko).  Some forms retain the /wa/ syllable or vary, while others (like ēkota and ēkotē) never occur with it.]

The topical demonstrative pronouns frequently co-occur with basic demonstratives to form pronominal phrases, as in (12):

(12)    a)    ēwako awa (> ēwakw āwa)       “this aforementioned (animate) one” or “this is the aforementioned (animate) one”

   b)    ēwako ōma (> ēwak ōma)          “this aforementioned (inanimate) one” or “this is the aforementioned (inanimate) one”

   c)    ēwako ana (> ēwakw āna)          “that aforementioned (animate) one” or “that is the aforementioned (animate) one”

   b)    ēwako anima (> ēwakw ānima)   “that aforementioned (inanimate) one” or “that is the aforementioned (inanimate) one”

 

Finally, topical forms are not restricted to these demonstratives and locatives, as topical proforms can also be found for a number of additional important semantic categories in Cree, such as the following:

(13)    Time:                        ēkospī ~ ēkospīhk “at that time” (cf. ispī ~ ispīhk “when”)

(14)    Manner:                   ēkosi “thus, so” (cf. isi “in such a way”)

(15)    Amount-Mass:         ēkoyikohk “that much” (cf. iyikohk “so much”)

(16)    Amount-Number:     ēkotahto “that many” (cf. (i)tahto “so many”)

(17)    Kind:                         ēkotowa ~ ēkotawahk “that kind” (cf. itowa(hk) “such a kind”)

(18)    Place Kind:               ēkotowihk “that kind of place” (cf. itowihk “such a place”)

 

Many if not all of these categories are also important for Interrogative Pronouns and Proforms.