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DEICTIC EXPRESSIONS CLASSIFICATIONS IN THE PEARL

HARBOR ADDRESS TO THE NATION:


Analysis of Deixis in the US Declaration of WWII

CLARK DOMINIC L. ALIPASA


Graduate Student * DEAL * De La Salle University

Introduction

Deictic Expression are purposively used to denote markings of subjects with respect to
certain reference points (Brinton, 2010), especially when one is speaking and/or writing. Hence,
every speaker/writer must commit to set up a frame of these references around himself/herself
(Saeed, 1997) in order to clearly convey his/her message. Hence, deixis is very critical for our
ability to learn a language, for it encompasses beyond formal linguistic components (Horn,
2006) because the comprehension of such underlies within linguistic theories of pragmatics and
semantics (Levinson, 1983).
To exemplify the undisputed importance of interpreting deictic words in comprehending
the meaning, Yule poses a series of deictic expressions in a sentence which makes a particular
statement very vague:
Theyll have to do that tomorrow, because they arent here now.
A sentence such as this commonly and widely appears and used in various contexts,
texts and oral utterances. So, how would one understand without knowing who is speaking,

about whom, where and when. These sentences become completely and virtually impossible to
understand (Yule, 1993).
Nevertheless, despite the above-mentioned implications and importance of studying
deictic expressions, deixis are not traditionally recognized as a grammatical category even
though might be considered as one (Brinton, 2010). Thus, this linguistic aspect has been one of
the most understudied and neglected pragmatic feature of language.
Henceforth, in this present study, the presence of deictic expressions in the historical
Infamy Speech of the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt who declares massive war against
the Empire of Japan due to its questionable attack on Pearl Harbor despite an on-going peace
agreement. Roosevelt begins describing the previous day of Japanese forces attack as a date
which will live in infamy. The speech contains descriptions of times, days and places on which
the Japanese government has launched extensive and offensive bombings. The following is a
sample introductory excerpt from the said state of the nation address that clearly exposes
necessary references, as time and place, for the clarity of its objective:
Yesterday, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the
United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and
air forces of the Empire of Japan. (Roosevelt, 1941)

Respectively, the following are the research questions that this study seeks answers to:
1. What are the deictic expressions present in Pres. Roosevelts infamy speech? Quantify.
2. What are mostly the types or purposes of deictic expressions used among the four major
classifications: temporal, spatial, personal or textual?
3. [When RQ #2 is found out] Why does the US President declaring war use much of this
kind of deixis more often in his speech?

4. What are non-deictic expressions present in the declaration of war? Do they have
anything significant to do with its rhetoric nature?
Thus, topics of deixis, or as philosophers usually prefer indexical expression, may be
usefully approached by considering how truth-condition semantics deal with certain natural
language expressions (Retno et al. 2013).

II. Theoretical Framework


Minus dicimus et plus significamuswe say less but mean more: we typically intend to
mean more compared to what we literally communicate in the content of our utterance
(Hoffman, 1987). This is the field of Pragmatics, the linguistic inquiry of the interrelation of signs
and interpreters based on context-dependent aspects which extend beyond the construction of
content and logical forms (Morris, 1938; Horn, 2006).
The study of diexis is under Pragmatics because it is one of the commonly-used
communication strategies which may be considered as speech actsthese are acts not
completely covered and described in grammar and formal features of the utterance used in
carrying out an act. When we speak, we can do all sorts of things (Sadock, 1974) and may
mean more other things and references through the use of simpler and shorter words or
expressions. The deep structure would be all that is required for semantic interpretation (Postal,
1964)
To exemplify, we can easily talk about the planet Pluto or about Julius Ceasar, which are
not contemporary of ours. A speaker could sensibly be talking about or pertaining to another
reference from an other which is formerly mentioned. These are the phenomena of aboutness
which is a folk notion that is too general and vague to really get at something fundamental about

natural language (Carlson, 1983). The basic notion is that meaning is intimately connected to its
meaning, contributions and true value of a whole (Frege, 1879). McGinn even mentions that
Reference is what relates words to the world of objects on whose condition truth hinges (1981).
Therefore, the mere referencing is by its nature pragmatic (Strawson, 1964).
Deixis comes from the greek word meaning to point or to refer. It denotes the marking
of objects and events with respect to a certain reference point, which is usually the speakers
here and now (Brinton, 2010). As categorized by Levinson (1983) into five, Brinton (2010) used
adjectival forms [boldfaced below] to address their classification:
1. Personal diexis reflects the role of the individuals in a speech event; it may be first,
second or third person. [1stP, 2ndP, 3rdP]
2. Temporal diexis indicates the tense. These may be calendrical or non-calendrical. [C
or NC - TIME]
3. Spatial diexis commonly a demonstrative pronoun, an adjective, or adverb pertaining
to place/space. [SPACE]
4. Textual diexis expressed by articles or demonstratives [TEXT]

Discourse and Social Diexis are addition by Brown and Levinson to address other
spoken and written registers especially in other context as Thailand, Japan and Korea (1987).
Discourse diexis is similar to discourse markers and social diexis is for special parameter, for
example: of honorific types, and other encodings.

III. The Data: America Declares War on Japan

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT


To the Congress of the United States
Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation
Delivered 8 December 1941, Washington, D.C.

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United
States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air
forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of
Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking
toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese
air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to
the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State of form
reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed
useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat
or hint of war or armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that
the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the
intervening time the Japanese Government had deliberately sought to deceive
the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued
peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to
American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost.
In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas
between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.


Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the
Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the
United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the
implications to the very life and safety of our Nation.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all
measures be taken for our defense.
Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the
American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that
we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain
that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory,
and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces with the unbounded determination of
our people we will gain the inevitable triumph so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack
by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the
United States and the Japanese Empire.

IV. Data Coding

I.
TIME: CALENDRICAL
Yesterday, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the
NC-TIME referring to the Dec. 7

TEXT-refers back to the appositive, Dec. 7; Delivery is Dec. 8

United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by

naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.


The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation
TEXTUAL pertaining to Japan (the opposing country)

of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor
3rdP both referring to the nation of Japan

looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one


TIME at around 8am: 35 men having breakfast killed

SPATIAL-US Eastern Territories

hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the
around 9AM when the letter was received in US [an hour after]

Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to


3rdP the Japanese ambassadors [poss]

the Secretary of State of form reply to a recent American message.


TEXT: US Presidents final appeal to the Emperor of Japan for peace

While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing
DEMONSTRATIVE TEXTUAL: Revocation of the existing US-JPN peace agreement

diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed


3rdP or Textual: referring to the letter [JPNs reply]

attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it
Non-deictic/dummy

SPATIAL: 10,144 KM

NON-DEICTIC PRONOUN

obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even
TIME: NON-CALEN: Several days/weeks before the Dec. 7 attack

weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government had
TIME: between days of attack preparation and the attack

deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and


expressions of hope for continued peace.
II.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage
TIME: Dec. 7, 1941 SPATIAL: including Honolulu County

to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have
been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on
DISCOURSE: to add

the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.


SPATIAL

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against


Non-calendrical TIME: equivalent to Dec. 7, 1941

Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
TIME: Dec. 7 beyond 6pm

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.


TIME: Dec. 7 beyond 6pm

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.


TIME: Dec. 7 beyond 6pm

Last night the Japanese attacked Midway Island.


TIME: Dec. 7 beyond 6pm

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending


DISCOURSE: to conclude

throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves.
SPATIAL: including Guam, Hongkong and Phil.

TIME: Dec. 7, 1941(calendrical equivalent)

The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and
ANAPHORIC/3rdP: People of United States

well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our
1stP: citizens of US including the president (the speaker)

Nation.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all
1stP: Franklin Roosevelt

measures be taken for our defense.


1stP: citizens of US including the president (the speaker)

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.


1stP (nominative & objective): citizens of US including the president (the speaker)

III.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated
NON-DEICTIC/DUMMY

DETERMINER/DEMONST/NON-DEICTIC

invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through
to absolute victory.
I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I
1STP: The Speaker (Franklin Roosevelt) 3x

assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will
1stP (nominative & reflective): citizens of US including the president (the speaker)

make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us
st

1 P: the president & his people

again.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our
territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces with the unbounded
determination of our people we will gain the inevitable triumph so
Appearance of 1stP pronouns (7x) the president, his people, territory & government

help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly
attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed
TIME:CALENDRICAL (Two)

between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

V. DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS

This state of the nation address delivered by Pres. Frankln Roosevelt to the
Congress, December 8, 1941, frequently uses several deictic expressions to express or narrate
the recent happenings and onslaught that their people, bases are army have suffered from. Out
of the four or five classifications of deixis emphasized, the categories most abused are
PERSONAL AND TEMPORAL DEIXIS (see figure 1 below). Personal pronouns, particularly I
and we, are very dominant in the latter part, especially in the last three paragraphs/parts. This is
to reinforce and stress the involvement of the people and he (the speaker/the president) in the
current catastrophe, terrorism or premeditated invasion which endangers them as a state,

Figuire 1: Deictic Expressions Divisions

SPATIAL
TEMPORAL
PERSONAL
DISCOURSE
TEXTUAL
Non-Deictic

nation and people. Consequently, most of the personal pronouns, despite having the highest
frequency (please refer to Figure 2), are only maximized towards the end of the speech
second and third parts.

Figure 2: Deixis Distribution throughout the speech (divided to moves 1, 2 and 3)

100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%

3rd Move

40%

2nd Move

30%

1st Move

20%
10%
0%

Textual deixis are mostly used during the introductory paragraphs since the president is
textually referring to factors of him delivering the urgent state of war, such as the recent
American message and the formal replies from the empire of Japan. On the other hand, spatial
diexis are prevalent in the second part wherein the president emphasizes the places [American
bases and colonies] suddenly and dastardly attacked by Japanese air and naval squadrons,
e.g. between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Figure 3: Actual Frequencies of Deictic Expressions in the Speech


14
12
10
8

1st Move
2nd Move

3rd Move
4
2
0
SPATIAL

TEMPORAL

PERSONAL

DISCOURSE

TEXTUAL

Non-Deictic

It has been extremely evident that occurrences of usage of deictic expressions in a text
or speech have never been equal. Personal pronouns are more commonly used since this is a
speech addressing the current crucial condition of a state and its citizens. The involvement of
the people, officials, government and forces are all undeniable. Thence, the presence of
personal deixis becomes hardly numerable.
Whereas other deixis are used moderately, only personal and temporal deixis dominate
the chart (see fig. 3) because of the necessity to mention and stress the time [of attacks and
dates of agreement, letters sent, etc] in the infamy speech which aims to describe the date of
apocalypse.

VI. DISCUSSION
There are approximate 15 temporal, 5 spatial, 2 discourse, 23 personal, and 5 textual
deictic expression in the infamy speech of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt addressed to the Congress
and the nation. It is assumed that spatial and temporal deixis would dominate the speech since
the times and spaces of attacks were the ones descriptively emphasized by the president.
Nevertheless, the personal deixis which is normally consisting of WE and I outnumbered the
other expression of the presidents move to involve the public emotionally and emphatically to
the outbreak of the war.
The speech delivered may be subdivided into 3 major parts wherein moves are
noticeable: establishing and describing the context or condition on the first, enumerating the
number of destruction including specific places in the second, and the consent of the congress
and the public as he says that a war is obviously going on between the two countries.
The message or information being disseminated by the US the president is very timely
[hence, temporal deixis is given too much emphasis, even starting the statements with themin
the forms of adverbs of time, most frequently yesterday] since the bombings were just done a
day earlier, and many might have not known the complete and clear details of these Japanese
attacks on their colonies and/or territories.
Lastly, non-deictic expressions are also used in the form of it which is commonly used
as a dummy in cleft sentences and to add emphasis to important conditions, events, and
elements that started the misconception: the letters of the state and the replies of the empire.

VII. PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS


In addressing an letter containing important information to a specified audience, textual
referencing are very significant to highlight the words and ideas that need to be clarified and
specified to reinforce readers enhanced understanding of your thought.
The address shall commence with the acknowledgment of the distinguished concerned
individuals and the reference to important conditions, events, situations [in the present context]
which have to be unlocked through referential or textual deixis. As the topic progresses from
one part or move to another, discourse diexis must be used to impose smooth transition and
coherence of ideas. Organization may also be made possible with the help of these cohesive
devices which are similarly deictic expressions as well.
In the enumeration of important facts and in presenting them chronologically, temporal
and spatial clarity must be ensured to avoid subconsciously confusing or misguiding the
audience. Questions as who, what, where or when is being pertained to must be greatly
answerable for the listeners to maintain their attention and focus to the correct message, and
would not be lost when ideas transit vaguely to another concept without proper use of transition
and references to significant times and places to the interpretation and understanding of the
message.
Most importantly, proper use of personal pronouns, either non-deictically [just to
generally address anyone applicable] or deictically [to include and call the attention of everyone
who is involved] must be learned and used creatively in discourse engagements, especially to
express the significance of a particular issue or concern to them. Non-deictic cleft sentence
structures are also used to generalize and to impersonally express any attitudinal stance of
epistemic, desire, ability, obligation and/or prediction.

VIII. CONCLUSION

A speech is consisting of different parts performing various moves essential to the


development of the message. Correspondingly, number and presence of deictic expressions
also vary in different moves, and this is dependent on the authors/writers motive in a particular
paragraph or part.
Personal deictic expressions are very common regardless if a composition is written in
the first or third view. Nonetheless, if it is an address, it is important to relay the most important
details that the target audience needs to know, and this may be done with the non-deictic use of
YOU, but more prevalently, the pronoun WE is more advisably used to personally and
inclusively gather audience participation and involvement to the subject at hand.
Furthermore, the pronoun IT functions very richly in texts because they may serve as
TEXTUAL deixis giving importance and emphasis to important objects or factors that are vital in
cohesion and comprehension of a particular sentence structure, and cleft sentences are proven
to be always helpful and effective in bringing about a particular message or detail efficiently.
To conclude, references are clearly established before using indexicalities and/or deictic
expressions in ones statements. Despite that a grammatical sentence may be interpreted
pragmatically, it may cause comprehension barriers, misinformation or worst, confusions when
the references or objects, persons, places or events referred to by a speaker/writer are not
clarified. This affects the flow of meaningful ideas in the minds of the one reading, and may
affect the essence of the composition or speech as a whole as well.

References:

Brinton, L. J. (2010). The Structure of Modern English: A linguistic introduction. Amsterdam/


Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Cruse, D. A. (2000). Doing Pragmatics. London: St. Martins Press, Inc.
Horn, L. R . (2006). The Handbook of Pragmatics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Levinson, A.C. (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Retno, et al. (April 11, 2013).Deixis Combination. Jawa Tengha, Indonesia: State University of
Semarang UNNES.
Saeed, J. I. (1997). Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Yule, G. (1995). An Introduction: The Study of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.