Eventive and evidential speech reports

Corien Bary and Emar Maier


Abstract: We argue for a fundamental semantic distinction between two types of speech reporting. In eventive speech reports the main contribution is the existence of a speech event with certain properties. Direct and free indirect speech reports belong to this class. In evidential speech reports, the fact that something was said is not at issue, their primary function is to signal that the reported content is based on hearsay evidence. Reportative evidentials in Quechua, Gitksan, and Cheyenne, as well as, in English, certain speech act adverbials (allegedly) and slifting reports (I hear, they say) belong to this class. Indirect discourse constructions are ambiguous, allowing both an eventive and an evidential reading.

keywords: reportative/hearsay evidentials, direct/indirect speech, quotation, Gitksan, parentheticals, event semantics, not-at-issue content