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Linguistic Typology

Ed. by Plank, Frans

3 Issues per year

ERIH category 2011: INT1



“Mirativity” does not exist: ḥdug in “Lhasa” Tibetan and other suspects

1SOAS, University of London

Citation Information: Linguistic Typology. Volume 16, Issue 3, Pages 389–433, ISSN (Online) 1613-415X, ISSN (Print) 1430-0532, DOI: 10.1515/lity-2012-0016, December 2012

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Largely through the efforts of Scott DeLancey the grammatical category “mirative” has gained currency in linguistics. DeLancey bases his elaboration of this category on a misunderstanding of the semantics of ḥdug in “Lhasa” Tibetan. Rather than showing “surprising information”, linguists working on Tibetan have long described ḥdug as a sensory evidential. Much of the evidence DeLancey and Aikhenvald present for mirativity in other languages is also susceptible to explanation in terms of sensory evidence or appears close to Lazard's “mediative” (1999) or Johanson's “indirective” (2000). Until an independent grammatical category for “new information” is described in a way which precludes analysis in terms of sensory evidence or other well established evidential categories, mirativity should be excluded from the descriptive arsenal of linguistic analysis.

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