The paper provides an overview of the form, meaning, and use of a select group of spatial deictic expressions in Croatian. Following a brief review of possible psychological foundations for a linguistic theory of deixis, in the central part of the paper we argue that the semantics of deictic expressions can be explained by proposing a theory-of-mind that enables the communicative partners to adopt the perspective of another person. This view is taken to anchor the hypothesis that sees demonstratives – for our purposes a particularly interesting subset of deictic terms – as stemming from the pointing gesture (i.e. the precursor of language) while, at the same time, demonstratives representing the possible source of lexically coded joint attention elements that drive the emergence and development of language.
The paper is integral part of research work undertaken under the HRZZ (Croatian National Science Foundation) project IP-2018-01-2243