"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 as linguists.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 480
Weight: 688 g
Dimensions: 234 x 157 x 27 mm
...marks a major advance in the study of evidentiality ... Aikenvald has opened the floor for discussion, and everyone with an interest in this area can only appreciate this. * Heiko Narrog, SKY journal of Linguistics *
...a truly superb example of a cross-linguistic survey of a grammatical category... This book belongs in every linguistics library. * Edward J Vajda, Western Washington University *
The most important current resource for anyone interested in the nature and typology of evidentials. * Margaret Speas, University of Massachusetts *