Colloquium, 4/16 — Lisa Matthewson

Our next talk in our 2020-2021 McGill Linguistics Colloquium Series will be given by Lisa Matthewson (University of British Columbia) on Friday, April 16th, at 3:30pm. The title and abstract are included below.

If you have not yet registered for the colloquium series, please do so here (you only need to register once for the 2021-2021 year). For more information on upcoming events in the McGill Linguistics department, please see our website.

Evidential-temporal interactions do not (always) come for free

Lisa Matthewson (joint work with Yuto Hirayama)

Evidentials are usually assumed to encode the speaker’s source of evidence for their utterance. However, a growing body of research proposes that evidence source does not need to be hardwired into the lexical entry of the evidential morphemes; instead, evidential restrictions can be derived from temporal or aspectual information in the rest of the sentence (e.g., Chung 2007, Lee 2013 for Korean; Koev 2017 for Bulgarian; Bowler 2018 for Tatar; Speas 2021 for Matses).

In this talk we argue that the derivation of evidence source from temporal information is not always tenable. Drawing on data from five languages from four families, we argue that evidentials can lexically encode restrictions on the time the speaker acquired their evidence for the truth of the prejacent proposition (the Evidence Acquisition Time). Evidentials can do this independently of temporal marking elsewhere in the sentence, and they sometimes must encode both temporal and evidence source information.

In particular, we argue that English inferential apparently and seem, the Japanese indirect evidential yooda and reportative sooda, and the St’át’imcets (a.k.a. Lillooet; Salish) perceived-evidence inferential an’ all require that the earliest time their prejacent p becomes true, EARLIEST(p) (cf. Beaver and Condoravdi 2003) precedes or coincides with the Evidence Acquisition Time. Conversely, English epistemic should and the German epistemic modal sollte encode the opposite relation: EARLIEST(p) must follow the EAT. A third group of evidentials encode no temporal restrictions: the English epistemic modal must, St’át’imcets inferential k’a and reportative ku7, and Gitksan (Tsimshianic) inferential ima and reportative gat. Comparing temporal evidentials with non-temporal ones supports the view that a temporal component is hardwired into the lexical semantics of the former set. Finally, the fact that the temporal contributions cross-cut the evidential ones supports the proposal that one cannot be reduced to the other in these languages.

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