Indirect Evidence in Denotation & Discourse: At Best Second-Best

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Benjamin Mericli


This paper develops a threshold-based semantics for the Turkish indirect evidential marker, then shows that this marker’s behavior in interrogatives, so-called interrogative flip, follows from the structure of discourse as formulated by models that incorporate speaker commitment. I first establish that the indirect evidential marks information for which a speaker’s evidence is at best second-best, given general knowledge about the world. After formalizing this generalization in modal semantic terms, I show that it explains the marker’s canonical absence in reports of historical fact, as well as its optional presence in evaluative and mirative expressions. In addressing the problem of interrogative flip, I enhance an existing discourse model with the novel concept of projected discourse commitment.

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