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Epistemic (mis)alignment in discourse : what Spanish discourse markers reveal Osa Gómez del Campo, Adriana


In this dissertation, I explore how speakers of Peninsular Spanish keep epistemic alignment during a conversation by using two discourse markers: sentence initial 'si' and sentence final 'no' (Ortega, 1985; Montolío Durán, 1999; Schwenter, 2000b; Montañez Mesas, 2015; Schwenter, 2016b). I show that these two discourse markers operate at different conversational levels: 'si' keeps an alignment in the set of shared, public propositions, whereas 'no' keeps an alignment between the information states of the interlocutors. First, I focus on 'si' and its distribution. I show that 'si' is an illocutionary operator that marks that a proposition was already known by all interlocutors, hence forcing an alignment within the Common Ground. The sentence in which 'si' occurs is used in the conversation to reject the previous contribution due to a violation of a felicity condition. I use 'si' to show that speakers have two versions of the Common Ground: one representing what they themselves know, and the other representing what they believe the Addressee to know. I also discuss the distribution of 'no', which is used to align both beliefs and outcomes among interlocutors. It does so by requesting confirmation from the Addressee that the contextual update proposed by the Speaker is shareable and public. The sentence in which 'no' occurs is used in the conversation to confirm a bias held by the Speaker, either with respect to a belief or an outcome that is preferred. Finally, I offer a syntactic analysis of both discourse markers. I adopt an analysis based on proposals to include utterance-level information in the left periphery. I propose that 'si' is an illocutionary operator situated within the Complementizer Phrase, as high as ForceP, based on prosodic and syntactic evidence. I propose that 'no' occupies an even higher position, outside of Complementizer Phrase but still within the same clause. I follow recent analyses in the syntactic literature in calling this higher structure the Grounding layer (Thoma, 2016; Wiltschko and Heim, 2016). Within it, 'no' occupies the layer that represents the Addressee’s information state (as perceived by the Speaker).

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