Karolina Grzech @ LEL Research Seminar

Posted on February 19, 2018 by

On Wednesday 21st February we welcome Karolina Grzech, research associate at SOAS, to the LEL Research Seminars. Karoina’s primary interests are ‘array of phenomena related to spoken discourse, including the use of discourse markers in interaction and pragmatic structuring of talk’ and ‘the methodology of fieldwork’. In particular, her studies focus on ‘Tena Kichwa, a variety of Amazonian Kichwa (Quechuan IIB) spoken in the Napo province of Ecuador’.

In Karolina’s talk (see abstract below), she will focus on the use of enclitics in Ecuadorian Amazonian Quechua and Tena Kichwa.

The event details are as follows:

Room Booked: Sam Alex_A101
Date: Wed 21 Feb 2018
Time: 16.15 – 17.30

As usual, the talk will be concluded with a wine reception and followed by dinner. We look forward to seeing you there!

The interaction of information structure and evidential/epistemic marking in
Amazonian Quechua

Karolina Grzech

(SOAS, University of London)

Quechuan languages exhibit a number of free enclitics, widely analysed as evidential markers (e.g. Weber 1986; Floyd 1997; Faller 2002) and markers of focus (e.g. Muysken 1995; Sánchez 2010). In this talk, I focus on the use of two such enclitics – =mi and =tá – attested in a variety of Quechua spoken in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The enclitic =mi is attested in many Quechuan varieties, and has been analysed as a direct evidential (e.g. Weber 1986; Floyd 1997) or the marker of Best Possible Ground (Faller 2002). The marker =tá, on the other hand, has thus far not been described for any other Quechuan variety.

In Ecuadorian Amazonian Quechua, =mi is not a direct evidential. Rather, it can be
associated with ‘epistemic primacy’: ‘the relative right to know or claim’ (cf. Stivers et al.
2011), which is exclusive to the speaker. By using this marker, the speaker indicates that the utterance marked with =mi is new and unexpected to the addressee. In the literature,
expectation is considered relevant to the marking of (contrastive) foci (Zimmermann 2008; Matić 2015). Contrastivity is related to particular focal information being ‘unexpected for the hearer from the speaker’s perspective’ (Zimmermann 2008:348). The more unexpected the content is judged to be for the hearer, the more likely the speaker is to use dedicated marking.

This observation applies to the TK =mi, but does not suffice to explain its distribution.
Although the marker surfaces most often in contrastive constructions, it is not limited to
discourse contexts with explicit alternatives. Rather, the occurrence of =mi is triggered by the speaker’s assumptions about what the hearer considers unlikely. This property becomes evident when =mi is contrasted with the marker =tá, which associates with verum focus. Consider the contrast between examples (1) and (2) below:

Context: A and B are talking about making a traditional drink. A (myself) has never made it before and doubts that she could do it. B is an expert in making the drink, and A’s friend.

A: Mana ushani!
mana usha-ni
NEG can-1
‘I cannot [do this]!’

B: Ushanguimi!
‘YES [you] can!’
Context: A (myself) is trying to make a traditional drink. B, who is an expert, encourages her to go on.

B: Ushanguirá!
‘You CAN [do this]!’

In (2), B is an expert in making the drink, while B has never made it. A invokes her expert knowledge and uses a =mi-marked proposition, which is unexpected to A in the light of the immediately preceding discourse. In (2), B is already making the drink, and therefore it is reasonable to assume she thinks herself capable of completing the task. The expert, A, encourages B with an utterance marked with =tá. This marker also relates to epistemic primacy, but while it indexes the speaker as the primary holder of knowledge, it also shows that this knowledge is to some extent shared between the speaker and the addressee.

As mentioned previously, Quechuan evidentials have also been analysed as markers of focus. Examples above show that in Ecuadorian Amazonian Quechua, both =mi and =tá can occur on focal constituents. However, their analysis as focus markers is undermined by the low frequency of both markers. In the preliminary study comprising two hours of annotated data (1537 turns), =mi occurred 92 times (i.e. in 6% of turns), while =tá was only found 4 times (i.e. 0.2% of turns). This suggests that while it is associated with focal status of referents, it is not per se a focus marker.

In this talk, I present a corpus-based analysis of how both =mi and =tá are used in
Amazonian Quechua discourse, accounting for the three aspects of its meaning: epistemic primacy semantics, association with focus and the exclusive vs. shared access to knowledge. The analysis is based on 13 hours of spoken TK data, ranging from stimuli-based elicitation to natural conversations. The analysis I present follows a framework proposed by Matić (2015), incorporating expectation into the relevance-theoretical model of communication. I show that considering the parameters he proposes – ‘expectation’ and ‘specification’ – it is possible to predict the discourse contexts in which both =mi and =tá are likely to occur. These parameters also help explain the relationship between the markers’ function of indicating expected/unexpected content, their association with focus, and with epistemic primacy semantics.

Faller, Martina T. 2002. Semantics and Pragmatics of Evidentials in Cuzco Quechua.
Unpublished PhD Thesis. Stanford: Stanford University.
Floyd, Rick. 1997. La estructura categorial de los evidenciales en el quechua wanka. (Serie Lingüística Peruana). Lima: SIL International.
Matić, Dejan. 2015. Discourse expectations and common ground. Paper presented at the
Workshop on Information Structure in Endangered Languages, SOAS, University of
Muysken, Pieter. 1995. Focus in Quechua. In Katalin É. Kiss (ed.), Discourse
Configurational Languages, 375–393. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sánchez, Liliana. 2010. The Morphology and Syntax of Topic and Focus: Minimalist
Inquiries in the Quechua Periphery. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Stivers, Tanya, Lorenza Mondada & Jakob Steensig. 2011. Knowledge, morality and
affiliation in social interaction. In Tanya Stivers, Lorenza Mondada & Jakob Steensig
(eds.), The Morality of Knowledge in Conversation, 3–24. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press..
Weber, David. 1986. Information perspective, profile, and patterns in Quechua. In Wallace
Chafe & Johanna Nichols (eds.), Evidentiality: the linguistic coding of epistemology,
137–55. Norwood, NJ: Ablex .
Zimmermann, Malte. 2008. Contrastive focus and emphasis. Acta Linguistica Hungarica
55(3–4). 347–360.