Guest lectures 1 and 24 October

Henrik Bergqvist (University of Stockholm): Epistemic marking in the Americas: a view from the Andes

1 October 2014, 4-6 pm, lecture hall 7 at the Metsätalo building (Unioninkatu 40)

The talk explores the grammatical and conceptual possibilities of epistemic marking in language by drawing on examples from languages spoken in the Andean region of South America. For example, in Kogi (Chibchan, Colombia) there exists a previously unattested form of epistemic marking that signals ‘knowledge asymmetries’ between the speech participants from the perspective of the speaker or the addressee. Arguably, this form of epistemic marking can be analyzed as encoding a form of complex perspective that features both speech participants’ point-of-view, simultaneously. An observation that results from analyzing epistemic marking in a language like Kogi is that some epistemic marking systems focus on perspective-taking, but also that such systems are conceptually comparable to better known forms of epistemic marking, such as modality and evidentiality, which specify the speaker’s level of certainty and source of information, respectively.

Johan van der Auwera (University of Antwerpen): Mood (mode) and modality: a pair (triplet) apart

 24 October, 10 am to 12 noon, lecture hall 12 in Metsätalo building (Unioninkatu 40)

The talk traces the current understanding of mood (or mode, modus) and modality (modalitas) back in time, in the Western tradition, giving pride of place to F.R. Palmer, G.H. von Wright for the 20th century, to I. Kant in the premodern period, and all the way back to Boethius, Priscian, Quintilian, Dionysius Thrax, Apollonius Dyscolus, and Protagoras. It sketches how there were and still are several notions of mood (and mode), the crucial ones being (i) a kind of speech act catogory (Protogoras), (ii) a typically morphological property of the verb relating to an inclination of the speaker’s mind (Dionysius Thrax), and (iii) a sentence operator (Boethius). I will show how these notions were problematic, how they got intertwined and, most importantly for 21st century linguistics, how their domain was progressively taken over by a notion of modality. I will show how the confusion that characterizes current thinking is not exceptional and that one can learn from the earlier confusions.

Kant, Immanuel. 1934. Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by J.M.D. Meiklejohn. London: Dent.

Lallot, Jean (1989). La grammaire de Denys le Thrace. Paris: Centre national de recherche scientifique.

Malter, Sasha, 2004 Enklisis: Modusterminologie und Modusbegriff in der antiken griechischen Grammatik. Doctoral dissertation Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.

Nuchelmans, Gabriel. 1973. Theories of the proposition. Ancient and medieval conceptions of the bearers of truth and falsity. Amsterdam: North-Holland.

Padley, G.A. 1976. Grammatical theory in Western Europe. 1500-1700. The Latin tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Palmer, F.R. 1979. Modality and the English Modals. London: Longman.