Nanti self-quotation: Implications for the pragmatics of reported speech and evidentiality


This paper describes two quotation strategies employed by speakers of Nanti, one involving grammaticalized quotatives and another involving complement-taking verbs of saying, and examines the consequences of the pragmatic differences between these strategies for two key questions in the study of evidentiality: first, the importance of degree of grammaticalization in delimiting ‘evidentials’; and second, the importance of the analytical distinction between epistemic modal and ‘source of information’ evidential meanings. Nanti use of the two quotation strategies is specifically analyzed in the context of self-quotation practices in order to isolate specific aspects of their pragmatics. This analysis shows that the lexical quotative strategy expresses that the quoted party is not only the source of the content of the utterance, but is also an ‘illocutionary source’, who is committed to the interactional force of the utterance, while the grammaticalized quotative strategy does not indicate such a commitment. The functional difference between lexical and grammatical quotative strategies in Nanti is compared with differences between lexical and grammaticalized quotative and reportive strategies found in other languages, and the Nanti results are found to be consistent with cross-linguistic tendencies towards functional differentiation of lexical quotative and reportives, on the one hand, and their grammaticalized counterparts, on the other. These facts, it is argued, motivate a distinction on functional grounds between grammaticalized reportives and quotatives and their lexical counterparts, supporting the use of grammaticalization as a criterion for distinguishing evidentials proper from evidential strategies. The commitment-augmenting function of the lexical quotative construction in Nanti self-quotation is then examined in light of the commitment-diminishing function commonly attributed to quotatives and reportives (and also found in Nanti). It is argued that both types of commitment-modulating effects emerge as implicatures from the basic information and illocutionary source semantics of Nanti lexical quotatives, and from pragmatic reasoning based on whether the quoted party is first person or third person. The fact that both commitment-modulating functions of Nanti lexical quotatives are derived from semantics of lexical quotatives elements is argued to show that the distinction between information source and epistemic modal meanings, often taken to be a pivotal notional distinction in defining evidentiality as a grammatical category, is also essential to the proper analysis of the pragmatics of evidential strategies in discourse.

Lev Michael
Publication date: 
January 1, 2012
Publication type: 
Recent Publication
Michael, L. (2012). Nanti self-quotation: Implications for the pragmatics of reported speech and evidentiality. Pragmatics and Society, 3(2), 321-357.