(De)-constructing Evidentiality
Rose-Marie Dechaine, Clare Cook, Jeffrey Muehlbauer, Ryan Waldie
February 2015

We argue that clauses that are marked with evidential morphemes are ORIGO-centered and have presentative force. Clauses with evidential marking present, but do not assert, an ORIGO-centered proposition. This presentative hypothesis makes a number of claims. Syntactically, clauses with presentative force are a distinct clause-type, and so contrast with declaratives, interrogatives, and imperatives. Semantically, clauses with presentative force contribute not-at-issue propositional content (Potts, 2007): they are independent of descriptive content, they hold of the ORIGO’s utterance situation, and they are perspectival. Pragmatically, evidential clauses update the ORIGO GROUND, and so interact in predictable ways with the COMMON GROUND, the QUESTION SET, and the TO-DO-LIST. Because of their ORIGO index, presentative clauses overlap with indexicals (if the ORIGO is 1st/2nd person) and with logophors (if the ORIGO is a 3rd person matrix subject). We test these claims with data from English, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Plains Cree, and show that several diagnostics reveal the existence of the ORIGO GROUND, including grounds for endorsement/challengeability, ORIGO shifts, and faultless disagreement. Consequently, languages don’t really differ in whether they have grammaticized evidential morphemes. Rather, they differ in default illocutionary force and perhaps in whether they have morphemes that specifically mark presentational force.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002089
(please use that when you cite this article)
keywords: evidential; presentation; assertion; illocutionary force; origo; clause-type; english; plains cree; nuu-chah-nulth, semantics, morphology, syntax
previous versions: v1 [May 2014]
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