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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evidentiality in Nuu-chah-nulth Waldie, Ryan James


This thesis proposes that evidentiality is made up of three factors: a relation between an origo and a situation, a relation between an origo and a proposition, and a relation between a situation and a proposition. This claim is motivated empirically by the set of evidentials in the Ahousaht dialect of Nuu-chah-nulth, a Wakashan language spoken on the west coast of Vancouver Island in Canada. This language has seven evidentials, each of which encodes at least one of the three factors of evidentiality. The thesis begins by laying out the claim (Chapter 1), giving a brief outline of the grammar of Nuu-chah-nulth (Chapter 2), and going over the relevant literature on evidentiality (Chapter 3). Chapter 4 looks at the morphological and syntactic classification of the evidentials in Nuu-chah-nulth. I show that evidentials occur in several different syntactic domains, and are thus able to co-occur. I present a model-theoretic semantic analysis of my proposal in Chapter 5. The notions of origo, situation and proposition are formalized, as are the relations that hold between them. I also give the semantics of each of the evidentials in Nuu- chah-nulth. Chapter 6 addresses the question of how the origo is determined. I argue that three mechanisms are involved: 1) matrix-clause mood suffixes specify the origo; 2) embedding verbs lexically encode that their subject argument is the origo of their complement clause; and 3) in the absence of either of the previous two mechanisms, the origo is contextually determined. In Chapter 7 I show that the evidential component of meaning in a sentence does not have the same status as the propositional component of meaning. I propose a modification to the model given in Chapter 5 to account for this. Chapter 8 looks at the interactions between the semantics of temporal suffixes and evidentials. I show that the semantics of sensory evidentials requires them to precede tense, while the semantics of other evidentials do not impose any ordering with respect to tense. Finally, in Chapter 9 I summarize the claims of the thesis and turn to some unresolved questions.

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