"Highly recommended... extremely useful." - "Linguist List." In
some languages, every statement must contain a specification of the
type of evidence on which it is based: for example, whether the
speaker saw it, heard it, inferred it from indirect evidence, or
learnt it from someone else. This grammatical reference to
information source is called 'evidentiality', and is one of the
least described grammatical categories. Evidentiality systems
differ in how complex they are: some distinguish just two terms
(eyewitness and non-eyewitness, or reported and everything else),
while others have six or even more terms. Evidentiality is a
category in its own right, and not a subcategory of epistemic or
some other modality, nor of tense-aspect. Every language has some
way of referring to the source of information, but not every
language has grammatical evidentiality. In English expressions such
as 'I guess', 'they say', 'I hear that', and 'the alleged' are not
obligatory and do not constitute a grammatical system. Similar
expressions in other languages may provide historical sources for
evidentials. True evidentials, by contrast, form a grammatical
system.; In the North Arawak language Tariana, an expression such
as 'the dog bit the man' must be augmented by a grammatical suffix
indicating whether the event was seen, heard, assumed, or reported.
This book provides the first exhaustive cross-linguistic
typological study of how languages deal with the marking of
information source. Examples are drawn from more than 500 languages
from all over the world, several of them based on the author's
original fieldwork. Professor Aikhenvald also considers the role
evidentiality plays in human cognition, and the ways in which
evidentiality influences human perception of the world. This is an
important book on an intriguing subject. It will interest
anthropologists, cognitive psychologists and philosophers, as well
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