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Towards Common Balkan Lexical Evidential Markers

Maxim M. Makartsev


A simple listing of lexical evidential markers in Bulgarian, Macedonian and Albanian uncovers unusual problems, because a significant part of the markers are common, both due to genetic relations between the languages (e.g. Bulg. and Maced. spored) and to areal factors (e.g. Turk. word güya / gûya was loaned into Bulg. dialectal gyoa, Maced. ǵoa and Alb. gjoja; this marker also exists in Serb.). But these common markers with the same etymology do not necessarily have similar meanings, which is both a theoretical problem for the description of the language data and a practical issue for translation between the languages. As Bulgarian, Macedonian and Albanian have grammatical evidential systems as well, there is a question how the lexical evidential markers interact with evidential forms. Here the distinction between analytic and holistic reading can be quite helpful, as it clarifies the role of each of the components in constructions. In the article it is analysed on the basis of translations between the Balkan languages. The definition of evidentiality I employ in this article is the one stated by A. Aikhenvald: “evidentiality is a linguistic category whose primary meaning is [the] source of information. […] [T]his covers the way in which the information was acquired, without necessarily relating to the degree of [the] speaker’s certainty concerning the statement or whether it is true or not” [Aikhenvald 2004: 3]. It is well known that there is a certain variety of domains for expressing evidentiality; first and foremost there is a distinction between lexical and grammatical markers.1 In the following article I will concentrate on the common lexical evidential markers in Albanian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian, with a short introduction to grammatical evidentiality in these languages.


1 As for the grammatical evidential markers in the Balkan languages, there is a tradition of their analysis dating back to the second half of the 19th century for Albanian and Bulgarian. Comparative analysis of evidential forms in the Balkan languages conducted by Victor Friedman [Friedman 1982, 1986, 1999], Grace Fielder [Fielder 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999], and several other linguists, has answered some questions about what is common among Balkan languages and what is unique for each of them in the domain of grammaticalised evidentiality. There is a great deal of literature on grammatical evidentiality in general and it is scarcely possible to cite it all within a single article, but a recent study [Aikhenvald 2004] contains the main bibliography on the issue.


DOI: 10.31168/2305-6754.2012.1.1.2


evidentiality; lexical evidential markers; Bulgarian grammar; Macedonian grammar; Albanian grammar; Balkan linguistics; translation

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