Volume 39, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0731-3500
  • E-ISSN: 2214-5907
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This paper describes the attention marker =ɕo in Denjongke, a Tibetic language spoken in Sikkim, India. The presence of the attention marker, which may be either speaker or addressee-oriented, indicates that something is brought to the forefront of the speaker’s or the addressee’s attention. The attention marker =ɕo occurs in declarative uses postposed to a verb, and in interrogative uses postposed to other parts of speech (verbless uses). The attention in verbal uses, which resemble the notion “mirativity”, is either speaker or addressee-oriented, whereas verbless uses, which resemble the notion “contrastive focus”, are always addressee-oriented. When occurring with copulas, the function of =ɕo as either speaker or addressee-oriented is partly dependent on the evidentiality of the copulas. With other verbs, the orientation of =ɕo is dependent on other contextual factors. After describing the verbal and verbless uses of =ɕo, the article concludes by showing why the categories focus and mirativity are problematic for describing =ɕo. Existing definitions of mirativity by DeLancey (1997), Peterson (2013), Dickinson (2000), Hyslop (2011b), Hengeveld & Olbertz (2012) and Aikhenvald (2012) are shown to fail to accommodate the range of uses of =ɕo. The concept of attention, on the other hand, not only describes the Denjongke data more comprehensively but also helps understand the interface between mirative-like and focus-like phenomena. The last section illustrates the similarity of =ɕo to exclusively addressee-oriented morphemes in Nepali, Japanese (Davis 2011) and Ingush (Nichols 2011), suggesting that the concept of attention may prove useful for describing exclusively addressee-oriented phenomena, which have rarely been associated with “mirativity”.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): attention; discourse; focus; mirative; pragmatics; Tibetic; Tibeto-Burman
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