Research

Evidentiality constitutes one of the central topics of linguistics studies at present. Studies of evidentiality have examined, e.g., the evidential systems in the world’s languages, and it has been shown on many occasions that evidential markers acquire deviant functions with first person referents. More recently, the relation between intersubjectivity and evidentiality has emerged as a new field of study, and also the expression of evidentiality in languages lacking evidentiality as an obligatory feature has gained more interest. Thus far, the focus has been on languages of the Americas and Papua New Guinea, for example, where evidentials are frequently found.

The project contributes to our understanding of evidentiality by examining the notion from numerous novel perspectives and by focusing on features and languages that have not gained enough attention thus far. First, we will have a large-scale comparison of languages with and without obligatory evidentiality. Second, we will take a closer look at how person affects the use and meaning of different evidential markers. What kind of discourse functions evidential markers acquire and why? Finally, our goal is to challenge the idea that evidentiality is only, or even primarily, about the speaker’s source of information, but other persons present in the discourse also contribute to the use of evidentials.

The project comprises three inter-related parts. The first part studies the expression of evidentiality from a broad cross-linguistic and theoretical perspective, while the two other parts have an areal focus. The language areas have been carefully chosen due to the kind of evidential markers they have. First, languages of the Amdo Sprachbund use obligatory marking of egophoricity. Second, the Uralic and their neighboring languages with optional evidentiality, in turn, express evidentiality typically as secondary function of other grammatical elements, such as tense in specific contexts in relation to interaction of participants.

The framework of the project lies in functional-typological linguistics. We use reference grammars, authentic fieldwork data, questionnaires, informants and also newspaper and Internet data for data collection. Questionnaires are central to all parts and lots of effort will be put to developing high-quality questionnaires, and also audio and video recordings that can be later used by other scholars working on similar topics.

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