Oh the thinks you can think

September 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Dr Seuss was right all along. Contra to the Sapir Whorf hypothesis we are not constrained in the thoughts we can entertain in our tiny minds. This debate has re-entered the public consciousness as outlined below …

The latest news on the Sapir Whorf hypothesis

I think an interesting part of the material presented here by Guy Deustcher is the grammaticalisation of evidentiality – that is the obligatory marking of how you know the facts behind the assertions you are making.

Evidentiality marking is a celebrated feature … well in linguistic circles anyway … of a group languages of South America where verbal suffixes denote the source of information. A widely used exemplar language, Tuyuka has the source of evidence marked as a final stem on the verb. All verbs require some kind of evidential marking for grammaticality purposes, without them, sentences are judged to be ill-formed.

a. dı´iga ape´-wi ‘He played soccer (I saw him)’
b. dı´iga ape´-ti ‘He played soccer (I heard the game and him but didn’t see   it or him)’
c. dı´iga ape´-yi ‘He played soccer (I have seen evidence that he played but did not see him play)’

d. dı´iga ape´-yigi ‘He played soccer (I obtained the information from someone else)’

e. dı´iga ape´- hı˜yi ‘He played soccer (It is reasonable to assume that he did)’
Barnes, J. (1984). Evidentials in the Tuyuka verb.International Journal of American Linguistics, 50,255–271.   


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