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


Anja Neuß (geb. 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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4 Theoretical and methodological backgroundof the present study


198 4 Theoretical and methodological background of the present study Against the background of the studies on evidentiality that have been done so far and the notions of evidentiality, epistemic modality, subjectivity etc. that have been worked out in chapter 2, it is now possible to formulate the theoretical and methodological background of the present study. The point of departure is the fact that the indication of information sources in languages that do not possess real evidentials represents a pragmatic phenomenon and should be context-sen- sitively analysed against a pragmatic background. As the expression of sources and types of knowledge belongs among the basic communicative or pragmatic necessities of any language, evidentiality must be seen as an indispensable semantic and functional domain in any language. Thus, although the possibility to express evidential judgments is not part of the grammatical system in all languages, i.e., it is not expressed by default and with grammatical means, speakers can always indicate the “reason” or “evidence” for their statements if they consider it neaessary [sic] for some reason (Diewald/Smirnova 2010a: 3). As a matter of fact, evidentiality can be expressed in Contemporary Spanish and even needs to be expressed. It depends on the speaker-hearer convention or constellation as to whether the source of information for the proposition is ex- pressed or not (cf. Givón 1982). In this connection, Givón (1982: 24) speaks about a pragmatic aspect called “evidentiary justification” (or “evidentiary sub- stantiation”). Generally, with regard to types of propositions, he proposes...

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