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Discourse-structuring functions of Abui demonstratives

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Abstract

In a number of East and South-East Asian languages, certain grammatical elements such as pronouns, generic nouns, or demonstratives (e.g. <i>one, thing, this</i>) have acquired additional pragmatic functions. Well-documented examples of this grammaticalization process are the Mandarin <i>de</i>, the Malay <i>punya/nya/mia</i> and the Japanese <i>no</i> (cf. Yap, Matthews et al. 2004); the grammaticalized element occurs in the sentence-final position encoding speaker&#8217;s certainty about the proposition. A similar development has taken place in Abui (a Papuan language of Eastern Indonesia); markers describing speaker&#8217;s attitude towards a proposition (evidentiality and assertion) are recruited from two sources: (i) demonstratives and (ii) the utterance verb <i>ba</i> &#8216;say&#8217;.

References

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