Epistemic modality, evidentiality and grammaticality (MODEVIG)

Epistemic modality, evidentiality and grammaticality (MODEVIG)
REF: FFI2011-25755

The main goal of the MODEVIG project is to analyze and describe the pragmatic, semantic and grammatical traits of lexical markers and idiomatic expressions with epistemic and evidential values in a variety of discourse genres. The analysis of data will be contrastive (inter and intralinguistic) in five languages: Spanish, Catalan, English, German and French. Processes of grammaticalization will be also considered. The aim of the project is to observe the behaviour and the formal and functional differences and similarities of such linguistic units in the process of elaboration and interpretation of a discourse in a given genre. In order to do so, both formal/structural aspects (morphology, syntax) and functional aspects (semantics, pragmatics) will be taken into account.

The study of epistemic modality and evidentiality in European languages is relatively recent. A contrastive study of such characteristics would have a direct application in the translation field, both in theoretical and in functional terms. It would represent going a step further in the pragmatic description and functioning of epistemic and evidential markers, in general, and in the contrastive pragmatic aspects of these units, in particular. We consider that such cross-linguistic work would be highly relevant in our linguistic environment, given the discourse competence that is required in the fields of translation and communication. By means of epistemic modal markers the speaker linguistically codes his/her degree of certainty in relation to the propositional content of the utterance or the probabilities it has in relation to its truth-value. The speaker also transmits his/her beliefs, attitude and degree of commitment, as far as the content of the utterance is concerned. Evidential markers are those that codify source of knowledge. In any communicative exchange, the speaker follows a process that consists of two parts: a) self-awareness that there is some kind of evidence that justifies his/her assertion; b) capability to withdraw inferences based on such evidence and on world knowledge. The notion of evidentiality is relevant from the point of view of the speaker as well as from the hearer. Firstly, because the use of markers help to provide the message with credibility and authority; secondly, because its use allows the speaker to take a stance in relation to the information delivered, with a higher or lower presence of the subject in the discourse act (i.e. degree of subjectification or objectification).

Principal researchers

Montserrat González Condom


Clara Lorda Mur
Elisabeth Miche Comerma
Aina Torrent-Lenzen
Enric Vallduví Botet
Julia Williams Camus

This project is founded by Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación

REF: FFI2011-25755