Expressing belief with evidentials: A case study with Cuzco Quechua on the dispensability of illocutionary explanation

Journal of Pragmatics (forthcoming)
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Evidentials indicate a source of evidence for a content, and sometimes do more. Depending on the language, they also express the speaker's belief in that content or its possibility. This paper is about how to explain the expression of belief. It argues that semantic explanations are better than illocutionary explanations in two ways. First, a general argument is provided that a semantic explanation is preferable. Second, a case study is given to the evidentials of Cuzco Quechua to argue that a semantic explanation is preferable to the illocutionary explanation that has been proposed in great detail by Faller (2002, 2012, 2014). The upshot is that illocutionary explanations of how belief is expressed are dispensable for at least some languages with grammaticalized evidentials.

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Peter van Elswyk
Northwestern University


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