[Tibeto-burman-linguistics] CfP WS at SLE 2017 'Rethinking evidentiality – empirical, methodological, and theoretical perspectives'

manuel.widmer at uzh.ch manuel.widmer at uzh.ch
Mon Oct 3 20:19:11 UTC 2016

***apologies for cross-posting***

Rethinking evidentiality – empirical, methodological, and theoretical perspectives

Date: 10 – 13 September 2017
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Contact Persons: Manuel Widmer (manuel.widmer at uzh.ch), Martine Bruil (martine.bruil at cnrs.fr)
Call Deadline: 1 November 2016


Ever since evidentiality became a topic of interest in mainstream linguistics in the early nineteen eighties, a vast number of cross-linguistic and language-specific studies have considerably enhanced our understanding of the phenomenon. They have given rise to the widely accepted standard definition of evidentiality as a grammatical category that specifies the information source on which a statement is based (cf. Aikhenvald 2004). At the same time, this progress has led to new questions.

One of the most fundamental issues that remains unresolved is the question of how we can diagnose and identify an evidential as such. In both typological and descriptive studies, morphemes are sometimes referred to as “evidentials” without reflecting on whether this is the most adequate functional characterization. This issue has been touched upon in some recent studies that question the analysis of certain bona fide “evidential” subcategories as true evidentials. For example, Bruil (2014, 2015) has argued that reportative markers do not primarily mark information source, but rather signal a shift in epistemic authority. In the same vein, Widmer (2016, forthcoming) has argued that egophoricity (a.k.a. “participatory evidence”, c.f. Plungian 2010; San Roque & Loughnane 2012), does not specify one’s source of information but the quality of one’s knowledge as “exclusive / personal” or “non-exclusive / impersonal”. This has important implications for the typological classification of evidentiality (see Plungian 2010; San Roque & Loughnane 2012; Hengeveld & Dall’Aglio Hattnher 2015 for some recent proposals).

The issue of diagnosing evidential semantics is directly linked to the question of which methodology should best be used to study and evidential categories. Within functional linguistics scholars have argued for the use of natural discourse including conversations (Aikhenvald 2004) and the use of techniques from discourse analysis (Gipper 2011). Within formal semantics, scholars have argued for elaborate elicitation methods that help to determine the felicity of the use of evidentials in specific contexts (see Faller 2002; Matthewson et al. 2007; Waldie et al. 2009; Peterson 2010; Murray 2010; Déchaine 2012).

In this workshop, we would like to bring together scholars working on evidentiality from empirical, methodological, and / or theoretical perspectives in order to discuss the question of how evidentials can be identified and classified. The aim is to discuss how these different approaches can feed each other in our understanding of evidentiality. We are especially interested in the following questions (but potential contributors should not feel restricted by them):

 What diagnostics and tests can we use to identify and study evidentials in the languages of the world?
 Is it possible to describe evidential distinctions by reference to other semantic concepts, e.g. “evaluation situation” vs. “information situation” (Kalsang et al. 2013), “event situation” vs. “learning time” (Klose 2014)?
Are there other notions that are necessary to adequately describe complex evidentiality systems, e.g. “access” (Tournadre & LaPolla 2014), “knowledge type” (DeLancey 2015), “epistemic authority” (Bruil 2014, 2015), “perspective” (Bergqvist in press)?
Are there morphosyntactic and / or semantic criteria that allow us to group evidentials into cross-linguistically coherent subsystems, e.g. “representational” vs. “interpersonal” (Hengeveld & Dall’Aglio Hattnher 2015), “direct” vs. “indirect” evidentiality (Willet 1988)?
To which extent is it justified to think of evidentiality as a network of independent epistemic categories that all gravitate towards the notion of “information source”?
We welcome contributions from all theoretical frameworks that address any of the issues outlined above. Furthermore, we encourage linguists who study underdescribed languages to contribute with descriptions of evidentials in their languages of study. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words excluding examples and references and submitted to manuel.widmer at uzh.ch and martine.bruil at cnrs.fr in pdf format by November 1, 2016.

Important Dates: 

1 November 2016: deadline for submission of 300-word abstracts to the workshop organizers

15 November 2016: notification of acceptance by the workshop organizers

25 November 2016: submission of the workshop proposals to SLE 

25 December 2016: notification of acceptance of workshop proposals from SLE

15 January 2017: deadline for submission of abstracts to SLE for review

31 March 2017: notification of paper acceptance

10–13 September 2017: SLE conference 



Aikhenvald, Alexandra. 2004. Evidentiality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bergqvist, Henrik. In press. The role of ‘perspective’ in epistemic marking. Lingua.

Bruil, Martine. 2014. Clause-typing and evidentiality in Ecuadorian Siona. Leiden: Leiden University dissertation.

Bruil, Martine. 2015. When evidentials are not evidentials: The case of the Ecuadorian Siona reportative. Linguistic Typology 19(3), 385–423.

Déchaine, Rose-Marie. 2012. (De­)constructing evidentiality: what morphology, syntax & semantics reveal. Paper presented at the conferenceÿThe Nature of Evidentiality, Leiden, 14)16 June.

DeLancey, Scott. 2015. Evidentiality, Modality, Mirativity, and Personal Knowledge. Paper presented at theÿ48th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Leiden, 2)5 September.

Faller, Martina T. 2002.ÿSemantics and Pragmatics of Evidentials in Cuzco Quechua. Stanford: Stanford University dissertation.

Gipper, Sonja. 2011.ÿEvidentiality and intersubjectivity in Yurakar‚: An interactional account. Nijmegen: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen dissertation.

Hengeveld, Kees & Marize Mattos Dall,Aglio Hattnher. 2015. Four types of evidentiality in the native languages of Brazil.ÿLinguisticsÿ53(3), 479)524.

Kalsang, Jay Garfield, Margaret Speas & Jill de Villiers. 2013. Direct evidentials, case, tense and aspect in Tibetan: evidence for a general theory of the semantics of evidential.ÿNatural Language and Linguistic Theoryÿ31, 517)561.

Klose, Claudius. 2014. A temporal evidential in Aymara.ÿProceedings of ConSOLE XXII, 114-131.

Matthewson, Lisa, Henri Davis & Hotze Rullmann. 2007. Evidentials as Epistemic Modals: Evidence from St'at'imcets.ÿLinguistic Variation Yearbookÿ7, 201-254.

Murray, Sarah E. 2010.ÿEvidentiality and the Structure of Speech Acts. New Brunswick: Rutgers University dissertation.

Peterson, Tyler R.G. 2010. Epistemic Modality and Evidentiality in Gitksan at the Semantics-Pragmatics Interface. Vancouver: University of British Colombia dissertation.

Plungian, Vladimir. 2010. Types of verbal evidentiality marking: An overview. In Gabriele Diewald & Elena Smirnova (eds.),ÿLinguistic realization of evidentiality in European languages, 15)58. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

San Roque, Lila & Robyn Loughnane. 2012. The New Guinea Highlands evidentiality area. Linguistic Typologyÿ16, 111)167.

Tournadre, Nicolas & Randy J. LaPolla. 2014. Towards a new approach to evidentiality.ÿLinguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Areaÿ37.2, 240)263.

Waldie, Ryan, J. Tyler, R.G. Peterson, Hotze Rullmann & Scott Mackie. 2009. Evidentials as Epistemic Modals or Speech Act Operators: Testing the Tests. Paper presented at theÿThe Workshop on Structure and Constituency in the Languages of the Americasÿ13, Purdue University.

Widmer, Manuel. 2016. Same same but different. The relationship between egophoricity and evidentiality. Paper presented at theÿSymposium on evidentiality, egophoricity, and engagement: descriptive and typological perspectives, Stockholm, 17)18 March.

Widmer, Manuel. Forthcoming.ÿA grammar of Bunanÿ(Mouton Grammar Library). Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton.

Willet, Thomas. 1988. A cross-linguistic survey of the grammaticalization of evidentiality.ÿStudies in Languageÿ12(1), 51)97.

Dr. Des. Manuel Widmer
University of Zurich
Dept. of Comparative Linguistics
Plattenstrasse 54
CH-8032 Zrich
0041-(0)44 63 40234

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