Evidentiality in Japanese

Apr 5, 2018 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Yang Wenjiang (Associate Professor of Japanese linguistics, Nankai University; Visiting Scholar, Harvard-Yenching Institute)
Chair: C.-T. James Huang (Professor of Linguistics, Harvard University)
Discussant: Susumu Kuno (Professor of Linguistics, Emeritus, Harvard University)

Co-sponsored by the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and the Department of Linguistics, Harvard University

Evidentiality is a grammatical category with information source as its primary meaning. In languages with evidentiality, speakers may use grammatical means to state how they obtain the information, e.g. through their own perception (direct evidentials), or inferring from some factual evidence (inferential evidentials), or hearing from someone else (hearsay evidentials). Evidential markers in Japanese are by no means obligatory, but they constitute a complex system in that all of them are polyfunctional within and/or beyond the evidentiality category. This talk will first give an up-to-date sketch of the research on evidentiality before going into depth on the description of the evidential system in present-day Japanese. The diachronic development of major evidential markers will also be discussed to some detail.