Evidentiality in language and cognition
  • ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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This paper attempts to explain the terminological and conceptual confusion of evidentiality and epistemic modality. It presents a functionally oriented semantic analysis which does not belong to a specific theoretical framework. It shows that the alleged epistemic speaker commitment of evidential expressions does not come from the specific evidential value or mode of information, but rather boils down to the speaker’s and hearer’s interpretation of the source of information. A source of information can be attributed different degrees of reliability, but these should not automatically be translated into degrees of epistemic speaker commitment. The latter involves an evaluation of the likelihood, which is quite different from the evaluation of the reliability of the source of information. Thus, the account presented here challenges previous analyses in which the labels “epistemic” and “evidential” are applied to linguistic expressions either in too broad a way or in too exclusive a way. The analysis also contrasts with accounts based on the “inclusion” or the “overlap” of the two categories. Finally, the paper also discusses Nuyts’ (2004) claim that a clause can only have one qualification at a time.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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