Evidentiality and Mirativity in Bantu (Special issue of Studies in African Linguistics)

Following the 2021 online workshop on mirativity and evidentiality in Bantu, convenors Hannah Gibson and Jenneke van der Wal have put together a beautiful special issue of Studies in African Linguistics on the same topic. My contribution has the descriptive if uncreative title, “Looking for evidentiality (and mirativity) in Bantu” and aims to serve as a call for targeted research. Here is the abstract:

Although Bantu languages are not known for having grammaticalized and obligatory systems of evidentiality, research is uncovering more and more evidential contrasts and evidential strategies, as well as expressions of related categories like mirativity. In this article, I describe, with examples from the literature and my own research, two domains in which I believe targeted investigations are likely to uncover additional examples of evidential and mirative meanings. The first domain is quotatives, which very frequently have evidential and mirative functions, but which are largely underdescribed across Bantu. The second domain is tense and aspect, which is somewhat better described, but where little is known about associated evidential functions. I especially highlight cases in which two forms have overlapping denotative temporal or aspectual meanings, and evidential and similar contrasts can arise as a result.

Some of the ideas in this article were inspired by previous work with Hilde Gunnink, Ponsiano Kanijo, and Tim Roth, on a chapter about tense and aspect contrasts that contribute evidential meanings, which is due to be be published soon. Updates to come!