Colloquial Malay discourse particle punya as a modal evidential

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In this paper, I present an analysis of the discourse particle punya in Colloquial Malay as a modal evidential. I claim that the use of punya indicates that the attitude holder is certain about the truth of the propositional content of the utterance and that the source of the information presented is of the inferential type. I show that the attitude holder may be the speaker or the external argument of verbs of saying and believing. The proposed analysis connects punya with epistemic modal auxiliaries such as English must and Colloquial Malay preverbal modal mesti, both of which mark the attitude holder’s certainty as well as the inferential nature of the evidence for the asserted proposition. However, unlike epistemic must/mesti, which may appear in questions under certain aspectual conditions, punya cannot appear in questions. I claim that punya differs from must/mesti in who can be considered the attitude holder of the evidence/knowledge. In particular, while the attitude holder of a must/mesti statement can be a contextually relevant group that is indeterminate, this is not possible for a punya statement. I argue that this difference is the source of the contrasting behaviors of punya versus must/mesti in questions. The current analysis adds to the empirical base on the crosslinguistic patterning of the connection between modality and evidentiality and has implications on the notion of “evidential perspective shift.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-413
Number of pages28
JournalOceanic Linguistics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2019

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