Stanka A. Fitneva
How do children learn the evidential system of their language? The primary goal of this chapter is to summarize existing research on this topic. Its secondary goal is to position this research within a broader framework of investigating language development focusing on the learner, the target language, and the environment as key explanatory factors. The chapter reviews both observational and experimental studies, the latter exploring the production and comprehension of evidentials as well as their use in assessing the reliability of information. This research provides insight primarily into the contributions of cognitive processes to children’s learning of evidentials. The data, however, also hint at how the environment, in particular socialization processes, could help children break the code of evidentials, suggesting that this may be the next frontier of research in the area.
The study of pragmatics is traditionally held to encompass at least five main areas: Deixis, Conversational implicature, presupposition, speech acts, conversational structure. Within second language studies, work in pragmatics is narrower than it is in the field of pragmatics at large, including the investigation of speech acts and to a lesser extent conversational structure and conversational implicature. It is also broader, investigating areas traditionally considered to be sociolinguistics. In the intersection of second language studies and pragmatics, research is best characterized by Stalnaker's definition of pragmatics: “the study of linguistic acts and the contexts in which they are performed.” The most dominant area of pragmatics in second language studies is the study of speech acts. Speech act theory views utterances as not just stating propositions, but as a way of doing things with words; hence the concept of act. Speech acts include five categories: Representatives, Directives, Commissives, Expressives, and Declarations.