Modal vs. deictic evidentials in ʔayʔaǰuθəm (Comox-Sliammon)

Marianne Huijsmans, Daniel K. E. Reisinger


In this paper, we present novel data from ʔayʔaǰuθəm (a.k.a. Comox-Sliammon; an understudied Salish language) that challenge both the claim that all evidentials are epistemic modals (Matthewson 2012) and the claim that evidentials and modals are distinct, non-overlapping categories (e.g. Aikhenvald 2004, Speas 2010}. We take the defining difference between modal and nonmodal evidentials to be that modal evidentials contribute an at-issue claim involving quantification over possible worlds/situations, whereas nonmodal evidentials do not; both types of evidentials contribute information about the speaker's source of evidence for the proposition. We argue that ʔayʔaǰuθəm has two types of evidentials: one set are epistemic modals, while the other set are nonmodal deictic particles. Though we argue against the claims that evidentials are uniformly modal or nonmodal, we propose that both types of evidentials encode relations between situations (following Speas 2010).

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