Evidentiality in language and cognition
  • ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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This article takes up two closely connected theoretical unclarities: the questions of what a linguistic category is, and what it means for linguistic elements to have grammatical rather than lexical status. The two issues are discussed with reference to the case of evidentiality. The point of departure is the problem of how to define a category: Definitions of categories like evidentiality tend to mix up the question of what unifies the category with distinctions between pragmatic and semantic meaning, between lexical and grammatical coding, and between main predication and ancillary modification. In this article, we try to demonstrate the drawbacks of a conception of evidentiality as a strictly semantic, grammatical or modification phenomenon. We argue that evidentiality should be understood basically as a functional-conceptual substance domain. Against this background, we reconsider the distinction between grammatical and lexical status. We present a functional account of grammaticalization according to which grammatical status arises when a meaning is coded as being secondary information. By separating the definition of functional-conceptual substance domains from the distinction between grammatical and lexical status, we try to show how a function-based approach can make the characteristics of categories and of grammatical status cohere without getting mixed up.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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