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Immediate and extended intersubjectivity: synchronic and diachronic interplay among evidentiality, factuality and other domains

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date1/11/2014
Number of pages272
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis provides a theoretical and methodological contribution to the rich and intense debate on intersubjectivity (Nuyts 2001, 2012; Verhagen 2005; Narrog 2010, 2012; Sweetser 2012, and others) and intersubjectification (Traugott 1999, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2012). I will argue that intersubjectivity, intended as the subject’s awareness of the other persona(s)’ feelings, knowledge and beliefs, can be construed on an ‘immediate’ or alternatively on an ‘extended’ level. Immediate intersubjectivity (I-I) corresponds to the mutual awareness of the speech participants during the on- going speech event, whereas extended intersubjectivity (E-I) includes an assumed 3rd party (specific or generic) who has an indirect social bearing on the utterance (cf. Tantucci 2013). I will argue that along a unidirectional cline of change, extended intersubjectification constitutes a further stage of semantic and grammatical reanalysis with respect to its immediate counterpart (cf. chapter 4-5). In order to empirically justify the diachronic continuum between the two, I provide synchronic and diachronic data from a number of qualitative and quantitative corpus surveys on the immediate and extended intersubjectification of some constructions and in particular the presuppositional chunk [you don’t want X] in British and American English (cf. chapter 4). According to this framework, it is now possible to explain some theoretical gaps in and contradictions among several of the most influential accounts on intersubjectivity and intersubjectification (cf. Traugott 1999, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2012; Nuyts 2001a, 2005, 2012; White 2003; Martin & White 2005; Verhagen 2005; Narrog 2010, 2012).
The rest of the thesis (chapters 5-7) is dedicated to the synchronic and diachronic interplay of intersubjectivity and some specific semantic-pragmatic- grammatical domains both on an immediate and on an extended level. The three areas my investigation focuses on are evidentiality, factuality and presupposition. On this basis, I will first discuss the intersubjective/interpersonal encoding of evidentiality (chapter 5). Immediate, and in particular extended intersubjectivity, will be shown to be a fundamental trigger of interpersonal evidentiality (IE) here presented as the evidential dimension marking a statement as a form of knowledge shared with one or more member(s) of society (cf. Tantucci 2013). As a case study, I will provide the results of a qualitative and quantitative corpus survey on the grammaticalized status of the V-ﰀ guo construction, traditionally analysed as an experiential perfect (e.g. Li & Thompson 1981) in written Mandarin both from a synchronic and diachronic perspective. In the same chapter I then argue that IE can be seen as a proper typological category in the sense of having grammaticalized in many languages of the world. The theoretical implications of that will constitute a solid basis to reconsider evidentiality as a non-modal category primarily marking different types of ‘acquired knowledge’ (AK; cf. also Tantucci 2013) rather than a ‘particular source of information’ (as is most commonly done, e.g. Willett 1988; Aikhenvald 2004).
The last part of this thesis will be centred on a gradient redefinition of the notion of factuality. In this thesis factuality is not intended as a bipolar category (as in Narrog 2005, 2009) but rather as a dynamic continuum unfolding, both in texts and in time, through several epistemic levels. Increasing certainty regarding the realisation of an event or situation is defined here as factualization.
Chapter 6 focuses on factualization as a conceptual phenomenon determined by an embodied mechanism (Lakoff & Johnson 1980, 1999; Lakoff 1987, 2003; Grush 2004) of cyclic acquisition and control with respect to a new proposition P. Being a form of subjectification (Traugott 1989, 1995, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2011; Langacker 1985, 1987, 1990a, 1990b, 2006, 2008), factualization occurs both textually and diachronically, the former developing throughout an on-going discourse, the latter as the semasiological reanalysis of an epistemic construction. Drawing on Langacker’s (1991, 2008, 2009) notion of the epistemic control cycle, I address diachronic factualization first. I will demonstrate through a corpus study of data from English and Italian (taken from the BNC and diaCORIS) that epistemic predicates originally conveying weak certainty towards a proposition P diachronically develop an increasingly factual meaning conveying more and more frequently absolute certainty.
In Chapter 7 I turn to textual factualization. I provide a synchronic corpus- driven account of the intersubjective construing of factualization. I show how throughout an on-going discourse certain propositions are subject to a process of re- construal from an evidential to presuppositional or assertive stances. I will do this on the basis of a corpus-based (BNC) case study of propositions of interpersonal evidentiality (IE) introduced by the adverbial apparently. As I will argue, this surprisingly frequent phenomenon involves intersubjective construals of expected accommodation (cf. Schwenter and Waltereit 2010) as well as the extended- intersubjective awareness of an assumed third party (3rdP) who could potentially confirm the truthfulness of P.