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Evidentiality in Urama

1 Jan 2014

This thesis presents a description of evidentiality in the Urama language, which is a dialect of Northeast Kiwai, spoken on Urama Island in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea. The data in this study has come from both narratives and elicitation sessions with a native speaker of the language. The aim of this thesis is to provide a detailed description of the evidential system of Urama, paying particular attention to the evidential morpheme =ka. =ka encodes speaker-oriented evidence for an utterance. In order to provide a detailed analysis of =ka, a number of different semantic tests are undertaken to determine its status as an evidential. These tests were designed to investigate the status of different evidential particles in languages; they are used to determine whether the evidential in question is functioning at the propositional, or illocutionary level of meaning. In turn, the level of meaning on which =ka operates determines whether it should be treated as an epistemic modal evidential, or a non-modal evidential. The results of the tests suggest that =ka is operating at the illocutionary level of meaning, as a nonmodal evidential. However, the most important finding of this study is the fact that =ka appears to contain two different meanings, operating at both the propositional and illocutionary levels. When =ka fails to appear where expected, it expresses inferential or secondary evidence on behalf of the addressee, for the speaker‟s utterance. This lack of =ka (i.e. =Ø) indicates a type of common ground between the speaker and the addressee. In comparison to =ka, =Ø appears to function at a propositional level, and therefore operates as an epistemic modal. This conclusion is an important contribution to the field of evidentiality as there has been little documentation of languages which employ an evidential that expresses addressee-oriented evidence.

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