Chapter published in:Tense, Aspect, Modality, and Evidentiality: Crosslinguistic perspectives
Edited by Dalila Ayoun, Agnès Celle and Laure Lansari
[Studies in Language Companion Series 197] 2018
► pp. 165–184
An enunciative and corpus-based perspective
This chapter focuses on the sequence ‘I think’ as a discourse marker, used in evidential or epistemic contexts. ‘I think’ is seen to assume a variety of different values, which Kaltenböck (2010), among others, identifies as “shielding”, “approximator”, “structural” or “booster” functions. I hypothesise that ‘I think’ is not inherently ambiguous, but that different values reflect specific configurations, which depend on identifiable contextual features. The present study explores this hypothesis, first with a corpus-based investigation of collocational affinities of the sequence, which reveals a number of characteristic environments. Secondly, I elaborate an enunciative description of ‘I think’ in terms of a basic schematic form, which undergoes certain controlled and calculable deformations to generate local “shapes” (Culioli 1990). I conclude that ‘I think’ in itself expresses neither evidentiality nor epistemic modality, but that these result from specific contextual configurations.
Keywords: evidentiality, epistemic modality, Theory of Enunciative Operations, schematic form, corpus linguistics
Published online: 02 August 2018
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