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The Semantics of Evidentials

The Semantics of Evidentials

by Sarah E. Murray


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This book provides argues for a compositional, truth-conditional, crosslinguistic semantics for evidentiality, the linguistic encoding of the source of information on which a statement is based. Central to the proposed theory is the distinction between what propositional content is at-issue and what content is not-at-issue. Evidentials contribute not-at-issue content, and can affect the level of commitment a sentence makes to the main proposition, which is contributed by sentential mood. In this volume, Sarah Murray builds on recent work in the formal semantics of evidentials and related phenomena, and proposes a semantics that does not appeal to separate dimensions of illocutionary meaning. Instead, she argues that all sentences make three semantic contributions: at-issue content, not-at-issue content, and an illocutionary relation. At-issue content is presented and made available for subsequent anaphora, but is not directly added to the common ground; not-at-issue content directly updates the common ground; and the illocutionary relation uses a proposition to impose structure on the common ground, which, depending on the clause type, can trigger further updates. The analysis is supported by extensive empirical data from Cheyenne, drawn from the author's own fieldwork, as well as from English and a variety of other languages.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199681570
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 05/16/2017
Series: Oxford Studies in Semantics and Pragmatics
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Sarah E. Murray is an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Cornell University. She completed her Ph.D in Linguistics with a Certificate in Cognitive Science at Rutgers University in 2010, under the supervision of Maria Bittner. Her main research interests are the semantics and pragmatics of natural language, and she works extensively with Cheyenne, an Algonquian language spoken in Montana and Oklahoma. Her work has been published in journals such as Semantics and Pragmatics and International Journal of American Linguistics, as well as in edited volumes including OUP's Methodologies in Semantic Fieldwork (eds Ryan M. Bochnak and Lisa Matthewson, 2015).

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. A semantic classification of evidentials
3. Evidentials and varieties of update
4. Declarative sentences
5. Interrogative sentences
6. Conclusion
Appendix A: Definitions and worked examples
Appendix B: Semantic contributions by phenomenon

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