Egophoricity, engagement, and the centring of subjectivity

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    In egophoric systems formal patterns that are associated with first person subjects in declarative sentences are associated with second person subjects in questions. This difference in formal patterning is associated with a difference in the centring of subjectivity, whereby, for example, epistemic authority regarding the state of affairs that is described in a declarative sentence is vested in the speaker, whereas in a question it is vested in the addressee. Such egophoric patterning is but one in-stance of a wide range of phenomena that involve more-or-less regular shifts in the usual centring of subjectivity as between speaker and addressee. Here I examine three other such phenomena: 1) interactions between person marking and inten-tional modality; 2) shifts between speaker-centred and addressee-centred kinship terms when used in direct address; and 3) the prompting of children with utter-ances that are voiced as if from the child’s perspective. Evidence is drawn from the Papuan language Ku Waru and from comparison with other languages. I present an extended example of “engagement” in Ku Waru and compare it with 1-3. I show that, while grounded in the same basic aspects of human interaction, it differs from 1-3 in treating the centring of subjectivity as potentially variable, emergent, and dis-tributed across the interaction rather than as prototypically related to the speech roles of speaker and addressee and their alternation across speech-act types.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEvidentiality, egophoricity, and engagement
    EditorsHenrik Bergqvist and Seppo Kittilä
    Place of PublicationGermany
    PublisherLanguage Science Press
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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