Cognitive Semiotics Seminar: "Issues of analysis for the definition of linguistic epistemology" (Henrik Bergquist, Univ. of Gothenburg)

17 november 2022 15:00 till 17:00 Seminarium

In this invited guest seminar, Henrik Bergquist will inform us about developments concerning a specific kind of linguistic meaning having to do not with WHAT is being is denoted, but rather with HOW speaker and hearer relate to it, in terms of knowledge: "epistemics". This will be a hybrid event, so welcome to room H402 if you can, and to the zoom link otherwise (with cameras on). If you plan to attend the post-seminar, let Jordan know by Nov 7!

The presentation discusses some important issues of analysis in the study of epistemics in language. The term epistemics refers to forms and constructions belonging to notions like epistemic modality (Palmer 2001), evidentiality (Chafe & Nichols 1986), egophoric marking (Floyd et al. 2018), and engagement (Evans et al. 2018a, b), which display a number of semantic and functional commonalities (e.g. Bergqvist & Kittilä 2020; cf. Boye 2012). The presentation argues that the deictic nature of epistemics requires an analytical focus on the interactional context and the deictic origo occupied by the speech-act participants (Bergqvist & Grzech, forthcoming; cf. Grzech et al. 2020). A focus on such pragmatic concerns is motivated by the following observations: i) epistemics are perspectivized: the speaker’s perspective is at stake in statements, the addressee’s perspective is targeted in questions, and the perspective of third persons can be found in reported speech constructions. ii) epistemics are dialogical and subject to developing intersubjective semantics: the perspectives of both speech-act participants can be housed in a single form and the dialogical exchange significantly affects the distribution of epistemics. iii) epistemics are variable according to both intersubjective and intra-subjective parameters: the situational circumstances do not determine speakers’ choice of epistemic form, i.e. the accessibility that a speaker has to an event does not predict the use of a certain epistemic form in referring to that event; the speech-act participant’s respective relation to the talked about event does. iv) genre is important for the analysis of epistemics: epistemics are differently distributed according to genre of speech and modality of language use (written/spoken language). v) epistemics are often inaccessible to conscious reflection by the speakers that use them: not-at-issue meaning is (mostly) the relevant level of analysis for epistemics. The presentation discusses these observations in an attempt to outline the domain of epistemicity, drawing analytical support from the distribution and frequency of epistemics in spoken discourse, as well as, their diachronic development.


Bergqvist, Henrik and Seppo Kittilä. 2020. Epistemic perspectives: evidentiality, egophoricity, and engagement. In Bergqvist, Henrik and Seppo Kittilä (eds.), Evidentiality, egophoricity, and engagement [Studies in Diversity Linguistics]. Language Science Press.

Bergqvist, Henrik and Karolina Grzech. forthcoming. The role of pragmatics for the definition of evidentiality. STUF, 67(1).

Boye Kasper. 2012. Epistemic Meaning: A Cross-Linguistic and Functional-Cognitive Study. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.

Chafe, Wallace and Johanna Nichols (eds.). 1986. Evidentiality: the linguistic coding of epistemology. Norwood N.J.: Ablex.

Evans, Nicholas R., Henrik Bergqvist, and Lila San Roque (2018a), The grammar of engagement I: framework and initial exemplification. Language and Cognition 10, 110–140.

Evans, Nicholas R., Henrik Bergqvist, and Lila San Roque (2018b), The grammar of engagement II: typology and diachrony. Language and Cognition 10, 141–170.

Floyd, Simeon, Elisabeth Norcliffe and San Roque, Lila. 2018. Egophoricity. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Grzech, Karolina, Eva Schultze-Berndt, and Henrik Bergqvist. 2020. Knowing in interaction: empirical approaches to epistemicity and intersubjectivity in language. In Grzech, Karolina, Eva Schultze-Berndt and Henrik Bergqvist (eds.), Special Issue: Knowing in Interaction, Folia Linguistica 54(2), 281–315.

Palmer, F. R. 2001. Mood and Modality [2nd Edition]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Om händelsen:

17 november 2022 15:00 till 17:00

https://lu-se.zoom.us/j/61502831303 + room H402


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