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An empirical investigation of the felicity conditions for the Japanese evidentials -rashii, -sooda, and -yooda

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This paper reports on the first detailed experimental investigation of the perception of the felicity of evidential markers in context. We investigated the Japanese evidentials -rashii, -sooda, and -yooda in various discourse environments by manipulating two key variables: (a) whether there was any conjecture required, and (b) whether the information source was accessible firsthand to the speaker. This work provides a baseline against which future studies of other discourse variables can be measured, and our results present some challenges to established conceptions. For example, -rashii was found to be compatible with reportative utterances, building on its traditional categorization as a conjectural evidential. We situate our findings with respect to the typological literature and contemplate how the results may inform semantico-pragmatic theories of evidentiality. We further propose a slight modification to McCready and Ogata (2007) to account for the felicity of bare propositions with indirect information sources.

Affiliations: 1: Northwestern University, Evanston, USA ; 2: Northwestern University, Evanston, USA ; 3: University of Quebec, Montreal, Canada


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