Deixis in Rawang Ata: Ition

As with version, ition is a complex category. It is marked on verbs with the suffixes -u and -a – respectively positive and negative ition.

Ition and Movement

As the name suggests, one primary concern of ition is with movement. Positive ition often suggests movement away from the deictic centre, while negative ition indicates movement toward:


“he goes”

“he comes”

The deictic centre of ition is the same as that of positional deixis, and cannot be altered independently.

Other implications of ition.

In verbs without such clear motive semantics, ition can convey geographical location – positive ition indicating ‘upstream’, negative indicating ‘downstream’. Positive is also associated with distance, while negative is associated with proximity. Ition also has non-locational implications for verbs. Positive ition is associated with absolute or relative future tense, imperfective aspect, irrealis mood, uncertainty, spontaneity, and change or the unexpected. Negative ition is associated with past or present tense, perfective aspect, realis mood, the known and the dependable, the reactive, and with stasis or continuity or the expected. Except with verbs of motion, the locative sense is paramount when large numbers of verbs share the same ition, with the emphasis changing to tense, aspect or mood when location is clearly irrelevant or contradicted explicitly. With isolated itions that do not agree with the ‘background’ setting, tense, aspect, mood and the vaguer verbal implications are more important. Ition is very much a matter of emphasis and nuance:

Tyàyaru ia

“He will like that”

“He likes that (upstream)”

“He is liking that”

“He might like that”

“And he liked that!”


Tyàyara ia

“He liked that”

“He likes that (downstream)”

“He likes that (perfective)”

“He definitely likes that”

“He liked that, of course”



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