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 chapter interprets grammar (morpho-syntax) as an adaptive product of human evolution. It situates grammar within the rise of the two mega-functions of human language: cognitive representation and communication. It then points out that grammar is not primarily about representation, be it lexical or propositional, but rather about communication. Within such an adaptive framework, the article suggests that the communicative function of grammar easily translates into classical Gricean terms; that is, the speaker's ever-shifting mental representation, during ongoing communication, of their interlocutor's ever-shifting deontic (intentional) and epistemic (belief) states. Grammar is thus a structured, highly automated mechanism for representing and manipulating the mind of the other during ongoing communication. The chapter, lastly, situates the evolution of grammar within the adaptive ecological context of early communication
This chapter addresses the origin, meaning, syntax, and classification of dizque ‘they.say.that’. These questions are framed in the context of ongoing diachronic and synchronic investigations of new evidential markers (complementizer que ‘that’, digamos ‘let’s say’) and dizque variants (que dizque, quesque). Contingent on the dialect, dizque is a reportative and/or quotative, with a higher or lower degree of epistemic extensions, and mirativity. Dizque can be primarily epistemic too. Syntactic distribution varies. Most forms behave as a particle, with variable scope, to include sentences, constituents, and predicates. Contact with Quechua is thought to accelerate grammaticalization in some dialects. The origin of dizque is unresolved. Dizque may be substratum influence from indigenous languages of South America. Because Romance presents similar forms, dizque could be part of a more general genealogical development. Considering its early presence in the seed Peninsular Dialect, borrowing from Basque, or a calque from Latin cannot be dismissed.
This chapter discusses the working of evidentiality in Quechua narrative performance from the central highlands of Peru. In the Quechua narratives analysed, the grammatical marking of source and status of knowledge, and discursive ways of expressing evidence for knowing what is known, are shown to vary strikingly according to performance related factors. On the one hand, narrators base discursively expressed evidence for knowledge, and the veracity and authenticity of the stories they tell, on lived experience. On the other hand, in Huamalíes Quechua the assertion of knowledge and affirmation of validity are grammatically marked by evidential, epistemic modality, and tense suffixes. Taken together, the performative dimensions of discursively expressed evidence, and grammatical choices around evidentiality, constitute the epistemological underpinning of stories about the past in Huamalíes Quechua; both are taken into account in the mixed methods approach to the analysis of Quechua narrative adopted here.
Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald
This chapter sets out semantic and analytic parameters for understanding evidentials—closed grammatical sets whose main meaning is information source. A noun phrase may have its own evidentiality specification, different from that of a verb. Other means of expressing information source offer open-ended options in terms of their semantics, and can be more flexible in their scope. Evidentiality is distinct from tense, aspect, modality, mirativity, and egophoricity. An evidential can be questioned or be within the scope of negation. The concept of evidentiality is different from the lay person’s notion of ‘evidence’. Evidentiality involves numerous semantic parameters and cannot be reduced to a simplistic ‘direct’ versus ‘indirect’ opposition. Evidentiality needs to be worked out inductively, based on painstaking work with primary materials on a language, rather than on translation and elicitation. Guidelines for fieldworkers investigating evidentials are offered in the Appendix, alongside a glossary of terms.
This chapter surveys the different ways in which evidentiality is conceived of and referred to. It first outlines the history of the term evidentiality and other terms that have been associated with evidentiality. It then discusses different definitions and ways of understanding evidentiality. Most often evidentiality is defined in terms of the notion of information source or related notions. This notion has been understood as an epistemic notion, as a deictic or grounding notion and/or as having subjective and intersubjective aspects. Subsequently, the chapter discusses three distinctions that are significant to understanding information source and evidentiality, viz. distinctions pertaining to coding (coded versus non-coded), way of encoding (grammatical versus lexical encoding), and discourse prominence (discursively secondary versus discursively primary status).
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.
This chapter reviews recent proposals about how the meanings of evidentials should be captured within formal semantic theories, which attempt to model compositional meaning in a way that gives insight into possible semantic variation. The literature surveyed addresses three questions. First, how should the core meaning of evidential morphemes be characterized and what sorts of information can be inferred from their use in particular contexts and hence does not need to be specified as part of the core meaning? Second, can the way that evidentials compose with the rest of the sentence be captured using existing formal tools, or do evidentials have semantic properties that motivate additions to our semantic toolkit? Third, is there a limit to the range of possible evidential meanings? If so, how can a formal semantic theory constrain the possible meanings?
Sherman Wilcox and Barbara Shaffer
This chapter examines evidentiality in signed languages. Data comes primarily from three signed languages—American Sign Language (ASL), Brazilian Sign Language (Libras), and Catalan Sign Language (LSC). The relationship between evidentiality, epistemic modality, and mirativity is examined across the expression of perceptual information as an evidential source, inference, and reported speech. It is suggested that evidentiality relies on simulation and subjectification. Finally, a proposal is offered that evidentiality, epistemic modality, and mirativity are primarily expressed through grammaticalized facial markers in signed languages, rather than by means of manual signs. These markers allow for simultaneous expression of grammatical markers. In signed languages, therefore, not only are the semantic components of evidentiality, epistemic modality, and mirativity integrated, so too are the phonological means of expression.
This chapter focuses on languages that mark evidentiality within the verbal complex. It provides an overview of the interrelations between evidentiality and other categories expressed on verbs. The categories investigated are tense, aspect, modality, polarity, person agreement, mood/speech act type, finiteness, Aktionsart/semantically defined verb classes, and mirativity. Languages worldwide exhibit many peculiarities both with respect to the semantic as well as the formal relations between these categories and evidentiality. Furthermore, the relationships are multivaried and often include more than two categories, which leads to even more intricate interactions. Therefore, it is often impossible to arrive at cross-linguistically valid generalizations, especially with respect to the categories aspect, finiteness, and also tense.
Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald
Evidentials, as a grammatical means of overtly expressing information source, play a pivotal role in communication, cognition, and speakers’ status within a community. This accounts for their frequent spread in language contact situations. Evidentials often develop as a consequence of areal diffusion. A language surrounded by languages without evidential distinctions is likely to lose evidentials. Evidentials are among the defining features of a number of well-established linguistic areas, among them the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Baltic region in Eurasia, and the Vaupés River Basin linguistic area in Amazonia. They have made their way into a number of contact varieties of major European languages, including Spanish and Portuguese. An obsolescent language may lose or restructure its evidentiality system depending on the dominant language speakers are shifting to. Further factors propitious for a spread of evidentials in language contact include multilingualism and shared discourse genres and speech practices.
Ferdinand de Haan
The categories of evidentiality and tense/aspect overlap in various respects. On a formal level, it is frequently the case that evidentials are expressed with tense or aspect morphemes. They also share certain semantic features. Evidentiality and tense/aspect are much closer related than is sometimes assumed in the literature (which tends to focus on the relations between evidentiality and epistemic modality). This article is concerned with the nature of evidentiality, the marking of the source of information, or where the speaker got his or her evidence for making a statement from. It lays out the reasons for treating evidentiality and mirativity (the marking of unexpected information) as part of tense/aspect, and, after briefly outlining the various types of evidentiality that can be found in the world's languages, considers the semantics of evidentiality. The article then looks at two groups of evidentials—direct and indirec—and also discusses modal verbs, verbal affixes, clitic, mood, and particles. Finally, it describes three aspects of the interaction between visual evidentiality and tense and aspect.
Eithne B. Carlin
This chapter investigates the phenomenon of evidentiality in two Cariban languages, showing that the statement of source of information is not only a matter of grammatical expression, rather as a category it permeates the cultures of these Cariban peoples. Trio and Wayana distinguish a witnessed versus non-witnessed evidentiality pattern. Wayana has an additional reportative marker that has developed out of the non-witnessed form. This chapter looks into the use of evidentials in everyday speech as well as in oral traditions and shows how Trio and Wayana storytellers use evidential forms as a perspectivization strategy to position themselves vis-à-vis the source of information contained in the narratives. In addition, this chapter shows how the discourse of shamanic journeying is distinguishable from that of a speaker who has entered into an altered state of consciousness, such as coma, sleep-state and the like.
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).
Marie-Odile Junker, Randolph Valentine, and Conor Quinn
This chapter surveys three representative chunks of the Algonquian family: the Cree-Innu-Naskapi continuum, Ojibwe, and Eastern Algonquian. After noting the very productive role of lexical means of expressing perception (the closest Algonquian gets to sensory evidentials), it highlights how some of the Cree-Innu-Naskapi continuum languages show affixal morphology that contrasts (Direct versus) Indirect evidentiality, Inferentiality, and the distinctive ‘dream-witnessed’ Subjective—with the remainder of the family showing essentially subsets of this range of contrasts. At the phrasal-syntactic level, it examines how the use of uninflected particles and quotative verbs pay special attention to encoding the information source. It shows that evidentiality has traditionally been overlooked due to the treatment of relevant phenomena as essentially epistemic.
The Bodic group of Tibeto-Burman languages infamously code a wide range of epistemological categories, including evidentiality (source of knowledge) and perhaps more contentiously mirativity (expectations of knowledge), and egophoricity (access to knowledge). This chapter investigates these interrelated related epistemological categories in a range of Bodic languages, including but not limited to Darma (Himalayish; Uttarkhand, India), Manange (Tamangic; Nepal), Magar and Kham (Magaric; Nepal), Newaric (Nepal), various Tibetic languages, and Kurtöp (East Bodish; Bhutan). Mirativity appears to be widely found throughout the region, followed by egophoricity and evidentiality. In terms of evidentiality itself, Bodic languages commonly encode oral source of knowledge and less commonly encode indirect source of knowledge. Despite the close cognitive relationship between evidentiality, mirativity, and egophoricity, Bodic languages demonstrate that these categories are distinct.
Katarzyna I. Wojtylak
This chapter is the first attempt to explore how evidentiality is expressed in two neighbouring language families spoken in northwest Amazonia, Boran, and Witotoan. The evidentiality systems in Boran and Witotoan languages are not as complex as those found in languages spoken in vicinity of the Vaupés area to the north. Marking of evidentiality is more elaborate in Boran languages, with three choices available in Bora, while evidentiality distinctions in Witotoan languages are less expressive, with only two terms available in Murui. Although evidentiality choices can differ even within a single language family, a reported evidential is present in all Boran and Witotoan languages without exception. In addition to marking evidentiality, all languages show some type of optional marking that is related to expressing speaker’s certainty regarding an assertion.
This chapter investigates evidentiality in Formosan languages. Five Formosan languages—Bunun, Paiwan, Kanakanavu, Saaroa, and Tsou—are discussed. Evidentiality in these languages is a grammatical category in its own right, and not a subcategory of epistemic or some other modality, or of tense-aspect. The system of grammatical evidentials in Formosan languages has a limited number of choices. Formosan languages with grammatical evidentials divide into types depending on how many information sources are assigned a distinct grammatical marking. Except for Tsou with the richest system of grammatical evidentials, other Formosan languages are relatively poor in evidentiality. In Formosan languages with grammatical evidentials, Tsou is the only language that requires information source to be obligatorily marked in grammar. Other Formosan languages optionally use evidentials in order to ensure efficient communication. This chapter is the first typological study of grammatical evidentiality in Formosan languages.
Heiko Narrog and Wenjiang Yang
This chapter provides an overview of the structure, meaning and use of evidential markers in Modern Japanese and a brief summary of evidential markers through Japanese language history. Japanese has inferential evidentials and reportive markers. They are realized as suffixes on a variety of (mainly verbal) predicates, and as grammaticalized nouns. Issues that arise and are discussed in this chapter include the differentiation between markers that are semantically similar, the purported existence of direct evidential uses, the distinction between evidentials (reportives) on the one hand and quotatives on the other, the interaction with other categories of (mainly verbal) predicates such as tense, aspect, and modality, and the use in interrogatives.
This chapter is focused on the formal expression of evidentiality in Nakh-Daghestanian languages (Russia, Caucasus) and on the semantic distinctions available for evidentials. The vast majority of Nakh-Daghestanian languages express evidentiality in one way or another through grammatical means, but there are also many evidential strategies attested. Verbal evidentiality mainly shows up as one meaning of the perfect series and in inferential constructions with light verbs such as ‘find’, ‘stay’, or ‘be, become’. In addition, some languages have evidential enclitics and suffixes. The evidential meanings expressed are mostly indirect evidentiality, including hearsay and inference. The chapter also presents a short overview of related constructions such as conjunct-/disjunct-marking and epistemic modality.