Chapter 5. The cultural bases of linguistic form

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Culture-driven grammaticalization theory posits that cultural influence on linguistic form is mediated by the emergence of communicative practices which increase the frequency of particular lexical items, pragmatic inferences, and patterns of discourse, thereby putting in place a crucial pre-condition for their grammaticalization. The goal of this chapter is to contribute to the development of culture-driven grammaticalization theory by developing an account of the cultural basis for the grammaticalization of quotative evidentials in Nanti, an Arawak language of lowland southeastern Peru. In particular, it is argued that Nanti quotative evidentials grammaticalized from inflected verbs of speaking that achieved high discourse frequencies due to communicative practices that link respectful communicative conduct towards others with the avoidance of speculation about others’ actions and internal states. As part of this communicative practice, Nantis largely restrict their discussion of others’ actions and internal states to two domains: reported speech regarding others’ actions and internal states, and actions that they witnessed themselves, which can also serve to index internal states.


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