Tid: Torsdag 19 januari kl. 15-17
Plats: C307, hus C, plan 3, Stockholms universitet

Postseminarium äger rum direkt efter seminariet i institutionens pentry.

Hjärtligt välkomna!


It is a known fact from descriptions of epistemic marking in individual languages, that there are grammatical elements, such as particles, clitics, and affixes that attend to the perspective of the addressee in qualifying a proposition (e.g. Palmer 1986; Chafe & Nichols 1986). Forms that feature such semantics have, however, largely been regarded as peripheral and for lack of other options, housed under the roof of related, but semantically distinct notions and categories (e.g. epistemic modality).
The presentation explores the defining semantics and grammatical properties of such markers drawing on the notion of complex perspective as formulated by Nick Evans (2007) as part of a wider conceptualization of “multiple perspective” in grammar. A complex epistemic perspective is (minimally) defined as the speaker’s assumptions regarding the status of information/experience as being either shared or non-shared between the speaker and the addressee.
Crucially, it features the speaker’s assumptions of the addressee’s perspective while simultaneously expressing the speaker’s own. This contrasts with subjective qualifications such as modality in allowing for more than one point of view. An example from Kogi (Arwako-Chibchan, Colombia) illustrates the basic semantic contrast between shared (1a) and non-shared (1b) information:

(1) a. ni gwángwashi ninuko
’I’m boiling water (as you can see).’

b. ni gwángwashi nanuko
’I’m boiling water (I’m informing you).’

(Kogi field notes Bunkwa_24_8_09)

Complex epistemic marking concerns the distribution of knowledge, the speech participant’s individual beliefs and their (a)symmetric access to both. As such, it expresses a basic grammatical resource in language. In English, intonation and syntax (e.g. focus, topicalisation, interrogation) are used to signal speaker-stance and the speaker’s expectations on the knowledge-state of the addressee with regard to some state-of-affairs, suggesting the improbability of natural languages lacking the means to express assumptions regarding the perspective of the addressee from the point of view of the speaker, in some way.

Some languages have paradigmatic sets of markers that parallel other well attested categories such as evidentiality and tense/aspect in marking information access between the speech participants, e.g.
Andoke (“engagement”, Landaburu 2007), Southern Nambikwara (“verification”, Kroeker 2001, “new/old” Lowe 1999), Kogi (“modal”, Ortíz Ricaurte 1994), and Duna (“information status”, San Roque 2008).
Other languages formally house markers of complex epistemic perspective together with related categorical expressions, most prominently evidentiality. Examples of such languages are, e.g. Aymara and Jaqaru (“data source”, Hardman 1986, 2000), Kwakiutl (Boas 1911), Washo (Jacobsen 1964), and Yurakaré (“illocutionary marking”, Gipper 2011). Yet another difference in formal status is found with modal particles prominently found in Germanic languages and related markers that encode complex epistemic semantics, such as Awetí (Drude 2005) and possibly Trumai (Guiradello 1999). The presentation considers these systems and their formal differences in terms of a grammaticalization cline, but also attempts to situate the development of such systems in the context of other inter-subjective language structures that appear to be present on almost all levels of grammar (e.g. Dasher & Traugott 2002; Evans 2007; Verhagen 2005, 2008; Zlatev 2008).


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