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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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8 Overall evaluation of the results and future prospects


“[…] as with any scientific enterprise, almost any conclusion is subject to revi- sion”, says Portner (2009: 2) concerning modality, more precisely, with refer- ence to the question of what is to be called modal at all. All conclusions drawn in the present study – whether referring to epistemic modality, evidentiality, deixis, subjectivity, polyphony or to their relationship among each other – should certainly be termed ‘subject to revision’ as well. Even though being aware of the fact that all conclusions drawn in the present study might also be subject to revision, all conclusions drawn here are considered intersubjectively comprehensible. 8.1 Approach and data This study, in which a context-sensitive and functional approach to Spanish verbs of cognitive attitude, modal adverbs, modal verbs, the conditional form and the synthetic future was adopted, has not only proven that the Spanish lan- guage possesses linguistic means which may serve as evidential expressions but also subtly investigated their context-dependent use. In so doing, the analysis of the meanings of the linguistic expressions under discussion – concentrated on the conceptual meanings: meaning aspects that are encoded by a particular lin- guistic item were differentiated between meaning aspects that are contributed by contextually provided information. The approach was termed ‘context-sensitive’ and ‘functional’ but not ‘cog- nitive’ because what exactly the speakers/journalists were cognitively process- ing when expressing a certain utterance containing an evidential expression was regarded as not being detectable. It could only be traced back why a particular speaker in a particular situation used a particular linguistic expression...

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