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date: 18 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents a sketch of the grammatical evidential system and related epistemic meanings in Gitksan, a critically endangered indigenous language of the Tsimshianic language family spoken in the northwest interior of Canada. A number of basic syntactic and semantic tests utilizing presupposition, negation, and dissent are applied that provide a nuanced description of the meanings of the individual evidentials. A specific feature of the Gitksan evidentials which is examined in detail involves how they can be used to express epistemic modality, and how a speaker’s choice of which evidential to use in a particular speech context is conditioned by her evaluation of the information acquired in that context. One of the effects of this choice is the expression of what can be translated as modal force.

Keywords: epistemic modality, modal force, presupposition, Tsimshianic, Gitksan, embeddability, negation and dissent, semantic tests, syntactic tests

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