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Evidentiality

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald · ISBN 9780199204335
Evidentiality | Zookal Textbooks | Zookal Textbooks
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Publisher Oxford University Press UK
Author(s) Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald
Published 1st July 2006
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"Highly recommended.... extremely useful." Linguist ListIn some languages, every statement must contain a specification of the type of evidence on which it is based: for example, whether the speaker saw it, heard it, inferred it from indirect evidence, or learnt it from someone else. This grammatical reference to information source is called 'evidentiality', and is one of the least described grammatical categories. Evidentiality systems differ
in how complex they are: some distinguish just two terms (eyewitness and non-eyewitness, or reported and everything else), while others have six or even more terms. Evidentiality is a category in its
own right, and not a subcategory of epistemic or some other modality, nor of tense-aspect. Every language has some way of referring to the source of information, but not every language has grammatical evidentiality. In English expressions such as 'I guess', 'they say', 'I hear that', and 'the alleged' are not obligatory and do not constitute a grammatical system. Similar expressions in other languages may provide historical sources for evidentials. True evidentials, by
contrast, form a grammatical system. In the North Arawak language Tariana, an expression such as 'the dog bit the man' must be augmented by a grammatical suffix indicating whether the event was seen,
heard, assumed, or reported. This book provides the first exhaustive cross-linguistic typological study of how languages deal with the marking of information source. Examples are drawn from more than 500 languages from all over the world, several of them based on the author's original fieldwork. Professor Aikhenvald also considers the role evidentiality plays in human cognition, and the ways in which evidentiality influences human perception of the world. This is an
important book on an intriguing subject. It will interest anthropologists, cognitive psychologists and philosophers, as well as linguists.
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