Tid: torsdagen 22 november 2018, kl 15:00-17:00
Plats: C307, Södra huset, Frescati


This talk will focus on the linguistic marking of knowledge distribution and ownership in interaction. I will introduce the concept of epistemicity, concerning knowledge-related expressions, and will discuss the different epistemic categories attested in the languages of the world. The main topic of the talk, however, will be the epistemic discourse markers in Amazonian Kichwa (Quechuan, Ecuador): syntactically optional markers which increase discourse coherence (cf. Schiffrin 1987) by encoding knowledge-related meanings, much like you know or obviously do in English.

Amazonian Kichwa discourse markers have cognates across the Quechuan language family. In other Quechuan varieties, they are primarily analysed as evidential, that is, as indicating what kind of evidence the speaker has for a claim (cf. Aikhenvald 2004; 2018): whether it is visual/direct, inferred from context, or based on a verbal report. In Amazonian Kichwa, however, the use of the markers in question does not align with evidential sources ascribed to their cognates. Rather, the markers are used in a more subjective manner, related to the speakers’ assessment of both their own knowledge and the knowledge of their interlocutor. In this talk, I will show that this poses interesting questions regarding the grammaticalisation of epistemic markers, and invites more research on the concept of Common Ground (e.g. Stalnaker 1974; Krifka 1997) and its relevance beyond the study of Information Structure.

I will contextualise the Amazonian Kichwa data by defining the relevant concepts related to the ownership of knowledge in interaction: evidentiality, epistemic authority (Heritage & Raymond 2005: 16), and epistemic primacy (Stivers et al. 2011: 13), among others. I will show how authority over knowledge can be claimed in interaction by speakers of a variety languages, from English, through Japanese, to different dialects of Quechua. To complete the picture, I will show that cross-linguistically, the marking of authority over knowledge interacts with many grammatical categories, both the ‘established’ ones, such as person (e.g. Bergqvist 2017; Schultze-Berndt 2017), and the ‘emergent’ ones, such as egophoricity (Norcliffe et al. 2018) or engagement (Evans et al. 2018a; 2018b). Finally, I will also discuss the possible directions of future research on epistemic marking.


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BERGQVIST, Henrik. 2017. From person to engagement. Paper presented at the 50th Annual meeting of SLE, Zurich.
EVANS, Nicholas, Henrik BERGQVIST & Lila SAN ROQUE. 2018a. The grammar of engagement I: framework and initial exemplification. Language and Cognition 10(1). 110–140. doi:10.1017/langcog.2017.21.
EVANS, Nicholas, Henrik BERGQVIST & Lila SAN ROQUE. 2018b. The grammar of engagement II: typology and diachrony. Language and Cognition 10(01). 141–170. doi:10.1017/langcog.2017.22.
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