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A Context-sensitive and Functional Approach to Evidentiality in Spanish or Why Evidentiality needs a Superordinate Category

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Anja Hennemann

This study adopts a context-sensitive and functional approach to the qualitative analysis of Spanish linguistic means that are used to convey evidential meanings. Verbs of cognitive attitude, modal adverbs, modal verbs, the Spanish conditional and the synthetic future are analysed against the background of pragmatics. GlossaNet, a search engine that supports the researcher to build a corpus, was used to collect the examples analysed in this study. Furthermore, as evidentiality is – at least in Spanish – a linguistic category that overlaps with other semantic-functional categories, namely epistemic modality, deixis, subjectivity and polyphony, it is argued that the superordinate category speaker’s perspectivisation should be imposed on these categories.

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1 Introduction

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Evidentiality is not a linguistic category grammatically inherent in the language system of Contemporary Spanish as it does not have real evidentials like the languages Kashaya (Oswalt 1986), Fasu (Foley 1986: 165) or Quechua Wanka (Floyd 1997), for instance.1 Nevertheless, it can be expressed by lexical and grammatical2 forms. Famous studies like the ones by Boas (1947), Barnes (1984), Willett (1988), Aikhenvald (2003a, 2004) etc., in which evidentials are described from a semasiological perspective, were the basis for research in lan- guages that do not possess real evidentials. That means, once having determined the meanings of evidentials, one can search for linguistic devices showing the same or similar function(s) (cf. Volkmann 2005: 84). The following examples show linguistic devices encoding evidentiality, while (1), (2) and (3) contain a lexical form (a modal adverb, a modal verb and a verb of cognitive attitude, re- spectively), (4) and (5) contain a grammatical one (conditional and synthetic future): (1) Una adolescente de 15 años originaria de Nigeria es la séptima menor liberada de una red de prostitución en Cataluña en el último mes. Tres proxenetas de Ghana y Nigeria explotaban, supuestamente, a la víctima, según informó ayer el Cuerpo Nacional de Policía (CNP). La joven ha pasado a disposición de la Fiscalía de Menores y, previsiblemente, acabará bajo la tutela de la Generalitat.3 (El País 17/07/2010) (2) “No era un puerto tan duro para soltarlo, se podía ir cómodo a...

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