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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Aspect and evidentiality

  • Author(s): Bowler, Margit Lia
  • Advisor(s): Sharvit, Yael
  • et al.

A number of unrelated languages have portmanteau morphemes with both temporal and evidential meanings (e.g. Cherokee (Pulte 1985), Kalaallisut (Fortescue 2003), Tariana (Aikhenvald 2004), and Turkish (Slobin and Aksu 1982), among many others). These temporal and evidential meanings are strikingly consistent, cross-linguistically. Evidentiality frequently co-occurs as part of other grammatical categories (Aikhenvald 2018, 2004); however, most theories of evidentiality do not discuss its connection with other kinds of meaning. In this dissertation, I provide a formal account of the connection between temporal and evidential meanings through a case study of a set of portmanteau tense/aspect and evidential (TAE) morphemes in Tatar (Turkic). Part 1 of the dissertation provides in-depth description of the evidential and temporal interpretation of the Tatar TAE morphemes. This Tatar data was collected through original fieldwork on the language. Part 2 analyzes the Tatar TAE morphemes as having underlyingly temporal semantics. I propose that the Tatar TAE morphemes assert temporal meaning, and pragmatically implicate evidential meaning. I accomplish this by positing a tripartite event ontology (following Moens and Steedman 1988) in which events are preceded by contingently related pre-states and are followed by contingently related event post-states. I propose that the evidential meanings of the Tatar TAE morphemes arise as a "byproduct" of their ability to view events from within the runtimes of their pre- and post-states. I show that the evidential readings associatedwith the Tatar TAE morphemes are cancellable in some discourse contexts, and completely absent in others. This suggests that a pragmatic mechanism is needed to account for their use. This dissertation joins and formalizes intuitions about event pre- and post-states, causality, and evidentiality that have been previously described in both the temporal and evidential literatures (e.g. Comrie 1976, Nikolaeva 1999, and Bashir 2006, among others). In doing so, I account for both the temporal and evidential contributions of the Tatar TAE morphemes.

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