Evidentiality ‘In’ and ‘As’ Context
Corpus-Based Insights About the Mandarin V-过 guo Construction
In this paper we argue that evidentiality can be a category of a linguistic system that emerges from the intersection between form, usage and ‘contextual situatedness’. We provide a multivariate corpus-based case study about the usage of the V-过 guo construction in written Mandarin, and show how the text types in which the chunk appears significantly contribute to determine its pragmatic usage and its emergent meaning grounded in shared knowledge and collective recognition. This approach sheds new light on two critical issues. The first is that evidentiality is an important grammatical category of documentary, factual and academic prose in Mandarin Chinese. The second, much broader, claim of this paper is that generalisations about grammatical/semantic categories need to account for the usage of specific items in context. In this sense, ‘physical and sociocultural situatedness’ is as important a dimension as form and meaning in order to define categorial membership.