[Review] S. E. Murray. The semantics of evidentials. (Oxford Studies in Semantics and Pragmatics, 9.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. 192 p. ISBN 978-0-19- 968157-0.
Book review of S. E. Murray. The semantics of evidentials.
The Caucasus is the place with the greatest linguistic variation in Europe. The present volume explores this variation within the tense, aspect, mood, and evidentiality systems in the languages of the North-East Caucasian (or Nakh-Daghestanian) family. The papers of the volume cover the most challenging and typologically interesting features such as aspect and the complicated interaction of aspectual oppositions expressed by stem allomorphy and inflectional paradigms, grammaticalized evidentiality and mirativity, and the semantics of rare verbal categories such as the deliberative (‘May I go?’), the noncurative (‘Let him go, I don’t care’), different types of habituals (gnomic, qualitative, non-generic), and perfective tenses (aorist, perfect, resultative). The book offers an overview of these features in order to gain a broader picture of the verbal semantics covering the whole North-East Caucasian family. At the same time it provides in-depth studies of the most fascinating phenomena.
This paper describes historical changes in the pattern and semantics of the syntactic structure with jako recitativum, i.e., direct speech introduced by the particle jako ‘that, how’. This construction occurs widely in Russian chronicles of the eleventh through sixteenth centuries. In some chronicles jako recitativum is used as a semantically neutral model of the reported speech, while in other chronicles it expresses the narrator’s distancing himself from the content of the reported utterance as well as epistemic modality in situations related to gossip or deceit. It is shown that the modal use of jako recitativum is a result of functional distribution between two patterns of reported speech such as jako recitativum and indirect speech formed on the basis of a subordinate clause.
The paper considers the grammatical expression of information source with past tense forms of the verb in the Nakh-Daghestanian languages. These languages are spoken on a relatively compact territory in the North Caucasus and, partly, in the Transcaucasian area. The area is part of a larger area ranging from the Balkan Peninsula to Central Asia, which includes the Caucasus, and where similar verb forms used to express information source are found. It is considered plausible that these forms arose as the result of language contact with Turkic, and for some languages (e.g. Armenian, Georgian), this is confirmed. The paper compares the characteristics of these forms in the Nakh-Daghestanian language family based on descriptive grammars, and illustrates their genetic and areal distribution on a map. I will show that the areal vs. genetic distribution is not trivial. There are three distinct zones within the territory of the Nakh-Daghestanian languages: more grammaticalized forms are attested in the nortwestern region, partly grammaticalized forms are dominant in the central region, and in the southern area the feature is absent. It is currently impossible to establish how these forms appeared in the Nakh-Daghestanian languages, through contact with which Turkic language exactly, and how this process took place. However, the distribution outlined in this article indicates that language contact played a role in their dissemination.
After an introductory chapter that provides an overview to theoretical issues in tense, aspect, modality and evidentiality, this volume presents a variety of original contributions that are firmly empirically-grounded based on elicited or corpus data, while adopting different theoretical frameworks. Thus, some chapters rely on large diachronic corpora and provide new qualitative insight on the evolution of TAM systems through quantitative methods, while others carry out a collostructional analysis of past-tensed verbs using inferential statistics to explore the lexical grammar of verbs. A common goal is to uncover semantic regularities and variation in the TAM systems of the languages under study by taking a close look at context. Such a fine-grained approach contributes to our understanding of the TAM systems from a typological perspective. The focus on well-known Indo-European languages (e.g. French, German, English, Spanish) and also on less commonly studied languages (e.g. Hungarian, Estonian, Avar, Andi, Tagalog) provides a valuable cross-linguistic perspective.
The paper considers the less known aspects in the functioning of Russian lexical “xeno” markers, in particular, of the particle jakoby ‘allegedly, ostensibly’. Traditionally described as expressing the falsity of a proposition contained in somebody’s utterance, in conjunction with a negative assessment of the utterer as aware of its falsity, jakoby displays very different usages in the language of contemporary mass media. Namely, it is frequently used as a mere marker of evidentiality, without an obligatory assessment of the proposition as false or of its source as untruthful. In fact, it can even be used to refer to statements that are treated as true within the very same text, only to indicate that the source of this information is not the writer herself but somebody else (e.g., a different news agency), in what might be termed as “safety” strategy. Besides, jakoby in its mass media usages demonstrates unusual syntactic behaviors, namely shifts in scope, where it is placed before the speech verb rather than before the challenged proposition: jakoby utverzhdat’, chto P ‘jakoby claim that P’ instead of utverzhdat’, chto jakoby P ‘claim that jakoby P’. However, the study of the Russian-English parallel corpus reveals that these usages are not as unusual as they may appear. In Russian translations of English texts jakoby sometimes functions as a translation of the English supposedly, allegedly, ostensibly or other (e.g., verbal) markers of uncertainty, but more frequently occurs with no apparent stimulus in the source, merely to mark indirect quotation. It appears therefore that there is a certain need in the Russian language for a neutral evidentiality marker. It is occasionally filled with jakoby, which in this case displays a tendency for grammaticalization: it expresses that the source of information is other than the speaker herself (but contains no other semantic components), and takes syntactic scope over the speech verb instead of the proposition it challenges.
The article discusses evidentiality as a meaning of the perfect in Rutul, based on data from the dialect of the village Kina. The perfect has an unwitnessed past meaning in many East Caucasian languages, but this meaning is absent in Rutul.
This paper presents a description of evidentiality marking in the Rikvani dialect of Andi. As a language spoken in the Caucasus, Andi is situated in the centre of a large area within Eurasia where evidentiality is frequently expressed with a perfect or resultative form of the verb (general indirective), and special particles marking hearsay (and sometimes also inference). Both are attested in Andi and form independent evidential paradigms. I will explore the way these forms are used in natural texts and elicitation and how they interact with each other. An important issue is to what extent evidentiality can be considered grammaticalized as part of the verbal paradigm in Andi. I will compare my observations on Andi to the systems found in other East Caucasian languages.
This chapter deals with perfect forms of the verb in Avar and Andi, two East Caucasian languages. The presence of an ergative agent is shown to be an important parameter in distinguishing resultative constructions from resultative perfects in these languages. This distinction is relevant to determine whether current relevance meanings of the perfect are at all represented in these languages, alongside resultative proper and evidential usages. Based on elicitation as well as corpus data, this study shows that the Avar perfect represents a highly polysemic verb form that combines resultative proper, current relevance and indirect evidentiality, while its Andi counterpart shows a more advanced stage of grammaticalization of the indirect evidential meaning.