From the CanIL Blog
Read below for recent articles of linguistic tidbits and news from CanIL.
Don't Ask How I Know This
In languages that use evidentials, asking ‘how do you know this?’ makes little sense. While all languages have some means of specifying sources of information, in about a quarter of the world’s languages, speakers must provide information about the nature of the evidence ('evidentials') on which a statement is based– "whether the speaker saw it, or heard it, or inferred it from indirect evidence, or learned it from someone else." 
Languages with obligatory systems for marking evidentiality vary in how specific the distinctions are; the simplest systems distinguish only between two terms, such as eye-witness or non-eyewitness (which may or may not also include auditory information as well as information acquired through other senses). By far the most widespread distinction cross-linguistically is between information that is reported (‘hearsay’) and everything else. Complex evidential systems include up to six or more distinctions.