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15 Mood, attitude and engagement

From the book A Grammar of Coastal Marind

  • Bruno Olsson


This chapter brings together descriptions of a range of verb forms with functions that concern the realisation of events, the speaker’s attitude towards the statement, and the attentional or epistemic state of the addressee. §15.1 is a brief description of the only unambiguously modal affix in the language, the Counterfactual suffix -um. A prefix of the same shape, the Frustrative um-, has various meanings that relate to the non-realisation of an event (§15.2). §15.3 describes a number of Speaker Attitude prefixes that occur in the same prefixal slot, and express stance-like meanings. §15.4 describes the Deictic verb forms (called ‘the Absconditive’ in Olsson 2019a), which have an engagement function, viz. that of signalling that the addressee’s focus of attention is not on the state-of-affairs described by the verb, and that the addressee should realign their attention to achieve joint attention with the speaker. The general term engagement is taken from Evans et al. (2018b), who define it as the “grammaticalised means for encoding the relative mental directedness of speaker and addressee towards an entity or state of affairs”. Verb forms with clear engagement semantics have only been described for a few languages, so this is one of the most interesting features of Coastal Marind verb inflection.

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