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In linguistics and in philosophy of language, an indexical behavior or utterance points to (or indicates) some state of affairs. For example, I refers to whoever is speaking; now refers to the time at which that word is uttered; and here refers to the place of utterance. For Charles Sanders Peirce, indexicality is one of three sign modalities, and is a phenomenon far broader than language; that which, independently of interpretation, points to something — such as smoke (an index of fire) or a pointing finger — works indexically for interpretation. Social indexicality in the human realm has been regarded as including any sign (clothing, speech variety, table manners) that points to, and helps create, social identity.

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