Tuesday Seminar: Dr. Chris Davis

Speaker: Dr. Chris Davis (University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa)
Title: Pragmatic competition and evidentiality in Okinawan

Abstract: Okinawan exhibits a three-way evidential contrast with verbs describing past events, as illustrated by the examples in (1), adapted from data in Shinzato (1991):

(1) a. {wanne=e / ‘yaa=ya / are=e} hanahichi=nu kusui  nu-da-n

1s=top / 2s=top / 3s=top  cold=gen  medicine drink-pst-ind

“I took the medicine.”
b. {wanne=e / ‘yaa=ya / are=e} hanahichi=nu kusui  {num-u-ta-n / nu-dee-n}

1s=top / 2s=top / 3s=top  cold=gen  medicine   drink-wit-pst-ind / drink-inf.pst-ind

“He/You took the medicine.” (I saw it happen / It seems)

The simple past (1a) contains no evidential morphology, and is generally restricted to rst-person subjects. The witnessed past and inferential past, by contrast, contain overt evidential morphemes, and are typically incompatible with rst-person subjects, as seen in (1b). I argue that the restriction against simple past tense with second and third person subjects (1a) follows from competition with the two competing evidential past tense forms (1b), which contribute evidential presuppositions (cf. Izvorski 1997, Matthewson et al. 2007, i.a.). With non- rst-person subjects, these two competing evidential-marked forms exhaust the space of su cient evidential grounds for assertion, and the principle of Maximize Presupposition (Heim 1991, Sauerland et al. 2005) in combination with the Gricean Maxim of Quality requires that at least one of them be used. Sentences with rst-person subjects, following Garrett (2001), are typically grounded in ego evidentiality, which includes knowledge of one’s own actions, and does not depend on perception or inference. This licenses the simple past with rst-person subjects, and in combination with the Evidential Hierarchy (Willett) blocks rst-person subjects with evidentially marked forms.