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Evidential coding in Lezgi

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Abstract

Evidentiality is “grammatical marking of how we know something” (Aikhenvald 2014:3). As evidentiality is a well-known feature in many Nakh-Daghestanian languages, this paper investigates the expression of evidential meanings in Lezgi, a language which has received less attention in this area. This paper compares evidential meanings of verb forms with the existing findings in a related language, Aghul (Majsak & Merdanova 2002a), and then considers other ways of conveying evidential meanings non-lexically. The language data were collected through elicitation and study of natural texts. Following Aikhenvald (2004), semantic labels were established for different evidential meanings.

Regarding indirect evidentiality, the Lezgi Perfect was found to display the meaning of inference, thus largely coinciding with the inferential use of the Aghul Resultative. In addition, a verb construction involving a nominalized predicative and an equative particle conveys the meaning of inference accompanied by epistemic uncertainty. The Lezgi Aorist is in general evidentially neutral, but can acquire readings of direct, witnessed information source, accompanied by the modal meaning of reliability. However, the opposition displayed in Aghul between witnessed and reported meanings does not find reflection in the Lezgi past tense forms.

In the area of speech reports, evidential meanings can be displayed in Lezgi by two markers, originating from the speech verb luhun: a grammaticalised clitic expressing hearsay, and a converb form expressing the meaning of quotative. Discourse particles display evidential and mirative meanings.

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