Demonstrative is the technical term for words like 'this' and 'that'. English has only the two; where 'this' denotes something near or associated with the speaker and 'that' denotes something not so. Most other languages that I've seen (Spanish, Latin, Japanese) separate 'that' into one that denotes something near or associated with the listener, and one that denotes something distant from both of you. So basically a first, second and third person.
Spem has four person-distinctions for this. A first person, a second person, a third person, and a "first and second" person, which denotes something near or associated with both the speaker and the listener.
There's also a time axis. In English (and as far as I can tell the other languages I've seen with three) this/that also has a connotation of "the present or the near future" versus the past. For example, in English:
- "I didn't mean to say that." -- 'that' is still referring to something associated with the first grammatical person, but because it's something said in the past, it gets 'that' instead of 'this'.
- "... and I'm being hyperbolic when I say this -" Referring to something about to be said, it gets 'this'.
Spem separates this distinction, so that the vowel in the middle indicates the tense, and the consonant at the end indicates the grammatical person. The consonant at the beginning also can vary to indicate a place instead of a thing.
|Present/future||Present/future, place version||Past||Past, place version|
|First and second|
Here are some use examples:
You and a friend finish a game and you want to say, "That was fun". Use
tɑrbecause it's something associated with both the first and second person, but in the past.
Your friend is reading a book and you want to ask, "what's that book?". Use
You see a building across the street from you and your friend and want to ask, "what's that building?". Use
You find out everyone else in the room believes something stupid and want to say, "This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard". Use
tɵŋbecause it's associated with the people you're talking to.
You're mad about something that's happening to you and want to say, "This is bullshit". Use
tem. If it's happening to both you and the person you're ranting to, use tɪr. Although this one is a grey area. A case could be made that it'd be better to use tʌnor even ɪlsince it's not something being done by you or the listener. After all if you were ranting to the person doing what you see as bullshit I'd use tɵŋ. If you have thoughts on it let me know in the comments.
You and a friend are trying to solve a problem and you want to say, "This isn't working". Use
Someone misquotes you and you want to say, "That's not what I said". Use
tɵŋbecause 'that' is referring to what the person you're addressing just said (or, if you feel you're actually addressing the person the misquoter was speaking to and in English you'd proceed to use third-person pronouns to refer to the misquoter, then tʌnis correct).
Someone explains that they don't trust your friend because of something he did before and you want to say "That was a long time ago. He's changed". Use