[Tibeto-burman-linguistics] Call for abstracts: Workshop on Ego-Evidentiality and the right(s) to know (better)

B. Zeisler zeis at uni-tuebingen.de
Mon Aug 7 19:53:19 UTC 2023

Date: April 25-26, 2024
Place: Tübingen, Germany

Last date for abstract submissions: October 31, 2023

Contact: Bettina Zeisler
Department of Indology
Eberhard Karl Universtät Tübingen

Workshop description:

Evidentiality is commonly described as the marking of /source/ of 
information (firsthand vs. non-firsthand) or also as the discrimination 
between direct knowledge through sense perception, on the one hand, and 
indirect knowledge, namely hearsay /and/ inference, on the other.

The modern Tibetic languages are known to have developed quite a 
particular type of ‘evidential’ marking. The basic principles have been 
described for quite a few of the Tibetic languages, see here the volume 
/Evidential Systems of Tibetan Languages/, ed. by Lauren Gawne and 
Nathan W. Hill. (TiLSM 302, Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2017) as well as 
the earlier collection in /Person and evidence in Himalayan languages/, 
ed. by Balthasar Bickel. (/Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area/, 
23.1-2, 2000). One of the key features is the subjective involvement of 
the epistemic /origo/ (the speaker in statements and the addressee in 
questions plus the original speaker in reported speech) in the events 
reported. The ‘system’ is thus also known under the key terms of 
‘egophoricity’ and ‘conjunct/disjunct’, both concepts often mistaken for 
a somewhat weird syntactic person category (ego vs. non-ego).

However, at a closer look, the ‘system’ is extremely flexible, allowing, 
in principle, most if not all forms for all persons, albeit in different 
frequencies and for different motivations. It further does not only deal 
with the source of information (firsthand vs. second-hand/hearsay) or 
the access channels (self-centred knowledge, perception, and 
inferences), but also or even predominantly with the subjective 
assessment of the situation and/or the socio-pragmatic situation. The 
pragmatic factors appear to be related to a speaker’s rights to treat a 
particular piece of knowledge as belonging to his or her ‘territory of 
information’, this also means that speaker-hearer (a)symmetries may play 
a crucial role. Apart from epistemic rights, other key words may be 
‘empathy hierarchy’ and ‘engagement’.

Another key term, used for languages outside the realm of the Tibetic 
languages (and those languages under their immediate influence), is 
participatory knowledge. Nothing, has been yet said about how flexible 
such systems are in the languages so described.

The workshop aims at discussing the ‘unsystematic’ aspects of 
‘ego’-evidentiality or participatory knowledge marking. The main 
questions are:

–What are the various motivations for using the ‘egophoric’ marker(s) 
for a person other than the epistemic /origo/.

–What are the various motivations for using any other than the 
‘egophoric’ markers for the epistemic origo, and are there differences 
between the three types of epistemic origo?

–How common, predictable, or even regular are such ‘deviations’ from, or 
‘transgressions’ of, the underlying paradigm?

–Are the speakers merely ‘playing’ with the system, ‘manipulating’ it 
for their subjective needs or is exactly this subjectivity or the 
speaker’s attitude towards the communicated content and towards the 
addressee part of, or underlying, the grammaticalised system?

–Which role does the so-called factual marker of the Tibetic languages 
play with respect to the question of a speaker’s attitudes and/ or 
rights. Does it, as often has been stated, present the respective 
information in a way that the addressee simply has to accept it, that 
is, in quite an authoritative manner? Or could its usage, by contrast, 
be described as a strategy for downgrading one’s authority?

–How helpful is the notion of territory of information for explaining at 
least part of the observable flexibility.

We invite papers for presentations of 30min plus 15min discussion. The 
presentations should specifically address some of the above questions. 
Expressive abstracts may be up to 4 pages including examples and 
references (A4, Times Roman 12pt, overall margins 2.5 cm). Presentations 
about languages outside the realm of the Tibetic languages, inclusively 
languages where evidential strategies are not grammaticalised, are very 
welcome. Abstracts that do not address any of the above questions will 
not be considered. Exceptions can be made for first descriptions of 
threatened languages, if the pardigm described shows some interesting 
features related to the main topic. In such cases, presenters will have 
a standard time slot of 20min plus 10 min discussion.

The workshop will be hold in physical presence.

Invited speakers:
Ilana Mushin, Professor of Linguistics, Deputy Head of School, 
Linguistics Major Convener, School of Languages and Cultures, University 
of Queensland, Australia.
Nicolas Tournadre,Professor emeritus, Department of Linguistics and 
Aix-Marseille University and CNRS, France.

Bettina Zeisler

DfG Project
*Evidentiality, epistemic modality, and speaker attitude in Ladakhi -
Modality and the interface for semantics, pragmatics, and grammar*
Department of Indology
**Eberhard Karl Universtät Tübingen
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