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Evidentiality ‘In’ and ‘As’ Context: Corpus-Based Insights About the Mandarin V-过 guo Construction

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Abstract

In this paper we argue that evidentiality can be a category of a linguistic system that emerges from the intersection between form, usage and ‘contextual situ- atedness’. We provide a multivariate corpus-based case study about the usage of the V-过 guo construction in written Mandarin, and show how the text types in which the chunk appears significantly contribute to determine its pragmatic usage and its emer- gent meaning grounded in shared knowledge and collective recognition. This approach sheds new light on two critical issues. The first is that evidentiality is an important gram- matical category of documentary, factual and academic prose in Mandarin Chinese. The second, much broader, claim of this paper is that generalisations about grammatical/ semantic categories need to account for the usage of specific items in context. In this sense, ‘physical and sociocultural situatedness’ is as important a dimension as form and meaning in order to define categorial membership.