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date: 19 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Evidentials in African languages range from systems that distinguish between firsthand and non-firsthand information to repertoires of evidential markers that express source of information, control over knowledge, reliability of inferred information, etc. Besides more ‘typical’ evidentials, there are also examples where evidential meanings are expressed via spatial deictic markers, discourse markers, and pronominal elements. This contribution provides an overview of evidentiality in a number of African languages and a case study of the pragmatics of these expressions. The chapter’s main argument is that evidential meanings can emerge ad hoc in specific sociolinguistic settings, where a number of factors translate into a need for clarity and unambiguity in phatic communication. To avoid misinterpretations, speakers make use of evidential markers, thereby reacting to social pressure. They also make reference to notions of agency, voice, and control over knowledge. This chapter focuses on individual languages of Nigeria (Jukun, Maaka) and South Sudan (Luwo).

Keywords: interjections, language ideology, pragmatics, African Frontier, logophoricity, evidential meaning, agency

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