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Evidentiality and Narrative

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In this paper we argue that the phenomenon of evidentiality, the grammatical marking in some languages of the source of one's knowledge, gives us a revealing window into the developmental processes in middle childhood that subserve the achievement of narrative competence. First, we argue that the mastery of evidentiality is connected to the development of an understanding of inference, and of the ability to mobilize this understanding in the construction of human narratives. Second, we examine the role that parent-child discourse plays in clarifying the contrastive uses of sources of knowledge. Finally, we discuss the difference between first person and third person narratives, and suggest that evidentials might reveal something of the sources of evidence for persistence of self as the protagonist in one's own life story.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Smith College., Email: jdevilli@email.smith.edu 2: Email: jgarfield@smith.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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