What is the functional or semantic distinction between proximate and obviative person deixis? From what I've read ...
"Deixis is reference by means of an expression whose interpretation is relative to the (usually) extralinguistic context of the utterance, such as who is speaking, the time or place of speaking, the gestures of the speaker, or the current location in the discourse."
"Person deixis is deictic reference to the participant role of a referent, such as the speaker, the addressee, and referents which are neither speaker nor addressee." [i.e. 1st, 2nd, & 3rd person--J.G.]
"Third person deixis is deictic reference to a referent(s) not identified as the speaker or addressee."
"Obviative person deixis is third person deixis that distinguishes a less important referent in the present stage of the discourse from a referent that is more important."
"Proximate person deixis is a third person deixis that distinguishes a referent that is more important at the present stage of the discourse from a referent that is less important."
All of the latter definitions are quoted from the SIL Glossary of Linguistic Terms at http://www-01.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOflinguisticTerms/index.htm.
Even with all this help from the SIL website, I'm still having trouble understanding the proximate vs. obviative distinction. Could it be that, in certain contexts, the English phrases "the first one" and "the other one" could be functionally analogous to proximate vs. obviative pronouns? Consider this passage, which I made up:
"So these two guys are sitting at a bar, and the first one says something really nasty about the other one's girlfriend, so the other one smacks the first one right in the jaw. So the first one is screaming bloody murder and calls the police so the other one winds up in jail."
Let's stipulate that the topic of our discourse is the guy known as "the first one." If, by some magic, we now add proximate pronouns (like PROX.SG) and obviative pronouns (like OBV.SG) could we paraphrase the passage like this?
"So these two guys are sitting at a bar, and PROX.SG says something really nasty about the OBV.SG's girlfriend, so the OBV.SG smacks PROX.SG right in the jaw. So PROX.SG is screaming bloody murder and calls the police so the OBV.SG winds up in jail."