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Egophoricity, Involvement, and Semantic Roles in Tibeto-Burman Languages

Manuel Widmer / Fernando Zúñiga
Published Online: 2017-10-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2017-0021


In this study, we explore typological aspects of egophoricity marking based on selected Tibeto- Burman languages. Conceptualizing egophoricity as an autonomous grammatical category that marks access to knowledge, we first discuss how egophoricity marking interacts with evidentiality in the Tibeto-Burman languages Shigatse Tibetan and Bunan. We then go on to explore the differences between the egophoricity systems of Shigatse Tibetan and Bunan, arguing that the variability of egophoricity within and across languages can be captured if we distinguish (i) constructions in which egophoricity markers express privileged access to knowledge due to actional involvement in the role of an event participant from (ii) constructions in which egophoricity markers express privileged access to knowledge due to epistemic involvement in the role of a “knower” whose precise relation to the event is not specified. We additionally introduce a set of five semantic roles to offer a more detailed description of the egophoricity systems of Shigatse Tibetan and Bunan (and also, albeit marginally, Kathmandu Newar and Galo). This study thus offers a new perspective on the variability of egophoricity systems in Tibeto-Burman and propagates an analytical approach that may also be helpful for analyzing egophoricity systems in other language families of the world.

Keywords: egophoricity; evidentiality; Tibeto-Burman languages


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About the article

Received: 2016-08-25

Accepted: 2017-08-16

Published Online: 2017-10-28

Published in Print: 2017-10-26

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 419–441, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2017-0021.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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