Learning how to know: Egophoricity and the grammar of Kaluli (Bosavi, Trans New Guinea), with special reference to child language

Lila San Roque, Bambi B. Schieffelin

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Languages with egophoric systems require their users to pay special attention to who knows what in the speech situation, providing formal marking of whether the speaker or addressee has personal knowledge of the event being discussed. Such systems have only recently come to be studied in cross-linguistic perspective. This chapter has two aims in regard to contributing to our understanding of egophoric marking. Firstly, it presents relevant data from a relatively underdescribed and endangered language, Kaluli (aka Bosavi), spoken in Papua New Guinea. Unusually, Kaluli tense inflections appear to show a mix of both egophoric and first vs non-first person-marking features, as well as other contrasts that are broadly relevant to a typology of egophoricity, such as special constructions for the expression of involuntary experience. Secondly, the chapter makes a preliminary foray into issues concerning egophoric marking and child language, drawing on a naturalistic corpus of child-caregiver interactions. Questions for future investigation raised by the Kaluli data concern, for example, the potentially challenging nature of mastering inflections that are sensitive to both person and speech act type, the possible role of question-answer pairs in children's acquisition of egophoric morphology, and whether there are special features of epistemic access and authority that relate particularly to child-adult interactions.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationBenjamins Translation Library
    PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
    Number of pages35
    StatePublished - 2018

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Communication
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Literature and Literary Theory


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