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The semantics of certainty in Quechua and its implications for a cultural epistemology

  • Janis B. Nuckolls (a1)

Abstract

This article contributes to attempts on the part of Quechua scholars to understand the evidential system of this language family, and thereby paves the way for a more complex understanding of Quechua speakers' language and culture. The author opposes the position that the most general meaning of the -mi suffix is to indicate a direct or first-hand experience; and she holds that specific claims about Quechua speakers' epistemological orientations, based on such an analysis, cannot be supported. Evidence from speakers' use of -mi indicates that it encodes two paradigmatic contrasts: one is status-like or modal, the other evidential. The patterning of -mi, including its use and nonuse in a variety of speech types, suggests that Quechua speakers from the Pastaza region of Ecuador do not share Euro-American concern for facts that transcend aesthetic and emotive significance. (Quechua language and culture, evidentiality, language in context, grammatical categories)

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The semantics of certainty in Quechua and its implications for a cultural epistemology

  • Janis B. Nuckolls (a1)

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