Up north there: Discourse-pragmatic deixis in Northern Ontario

In this paper we analyze the discourse-pragmatic use of the adverbs there/here, e.g., “So, our grandson there is a real mixture”, in four small northern Ontario towns. 1200 examples contrasted by type of reference, ambiguous locative or non-locative, were coded for social and linguistic factors and analysed using statistical modelling. The results reveal that the strongest predictor of discourse-pragmatic use is date of birth: middle-aged speakers use it most in each town, but no other social factors (e.g. perceived gender, education, job type) are significant. Importantly, the higher the proportion of Francophone populations in the community, the greater the use of there but not here. We argue that alignment between Francophones and Anglophones is a likely explanation. More generally this study highlights the value of discourse-pragmatic features for understanding styles of interaction and underscores the research potential for comparing these phenomena across communities.