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Epistemic IndefinitesExploring Modality Beyond the Verbal Domain$
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Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Paula Menéndez-Benito

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199665297

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665297.001.0001

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Evidential restrictions on epistemic modals

Evidential restrictions on epistemic modals

(p.141) 7 Evidential restrictions on epistemic modals
Epistemic Indefinites

Lisa Matthewson

Oxford University Press

In recent work on the relation between epistemic modals and evidentials, von Fintel and Gillies (2010) argue that the English epistemic modals must and might encode an evidential restriction, specifically an indirect evidence requirement. This chapter argues that the evidential contribution made by must and might is not an indirect evidence requirement but rather a ban on evidence of a certain level of trustworthiness. Although evidentials are not usually viewed as encoding trustworthiness distinctions, the chapter shows that there are some elements whose primary function is evidential, and which do target the trustworthiness dimension. This brings must and might into line with the broader class of evidentials, exactly as von Fintel and Gillies propose. Following ideas found in Kratzer (2012), it is argued that all epistemic modals encode evidential information as a matter of definition, since an ‘epistemic modal’ is a modal whose modal base relies on evidence (not on knowledge).

Keywords:   epistemic modals, evidentials, indirect evidence, Quechua, St’át’imcets

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