A semantic description of French lexical evidential markers and the classification of evidentialsA semantic description of French lexical evidential markers and the classification of evidentials
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Antwerp Center for Pragmatics (IPrA Research Center)
Rivista di linguistica. - Torino, 1989, currens
19(2007):1, p. 65-89
University of Antwerp
The phenomenon of evidentiality has predominantly been considered, especially by authors working within a typological framework, as a primarily grammatical matter. In this research tradition a conscious decision is made in restricting the object of study to grammatical evidentials, thereby disregarding lexical evidentials. This is no different with Aikhenvald (2004), for whom the semantic study of lexical means expressing source of information is considered a separate task. In our contribution, we will be concerned precisely with that separate task: the description of evidentiality expressed by lexical means. Our perspective will be different from the one taken by, amongst others, Aikhenvald. Instead of a typological study, we propose an in-depth analysis of a few markers in one language, French. Starting from an analysis of a selection of lexical markers (trouver, avoir limpression, penser, croire, paraître and sembler) and two more grammatical markers (devoir and the conjectural future), we show first of all that the semantic differences between these constructions can be grasped in terms of source of information, and secondly that the classical distinctions on which the common classifications of evidentials are based, however useful they may be, are not fine-grained enough to cover all the fine distinctions between semantically similar lexical expressions.