Björn Wiemer, Katerina Stathi
November 30, 2010
This introduction not only browses through the contributions of the whole issue, but also attempts to set the stage for a cross-linguistically unified study of evidentiality markers to be registered in a database. This endeavor has so far been restricted to European languages. We assume evidentiality to be a conceptual domain and, on this basis, want to account for diverse units irrespective of their morphological format and status in the particular language’s grammar. Evidential markers are claimed to be locatable on a lexicon – grammar cline, ranging from distinct lexical units (accessed holistically) to grammatical morphology (having been the subject of traditional descriptions in typology). We highlight different theoretical prerequisites necessary to build a template, pinpoint some shortcomings in recent theorizing and stress the necessity of a neat distinction between an onomasiological and a semasiological perspective: the former ought to delineate the functional values belonging to evidentiality, also examining systematic affinities to neighboring domains, while the latter perspective asks for the structural and distributional parameters of distinct linguistic units that fulfill the basic conceptual requirements and accounts for overlaps with values from contiguous domains. Beside the aims of the database, its present structure is explained and justified. The template designed as an entry for each single unit is illustrated with a pertinent unit from Polish (including an appendix).