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Book Chapter

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Social Environment and Cognition in Language Development


Evidentials fall in the borderland between traditional semantics and pragmatics. A situation semantics for evidentials helps to explain their puzzling developmental pathway in children. Drawing on our work in Tibetan, we argue that there is no necessity for a child to master Theory of Mind, that is, awareness of others' mental states, in order to make or to understand assertions that carry evidential force. The meaning of evidentials does not make reference to states of knowledge of persons, but rather encodes relations between discourse, evidence and evaluation situations. On the other hand, when a Tibetan speaker asks a question, the form of the evidential used in the question must anticipate the kind of knowledge the interlocutor can access in reply. Full mastery of questions in Tibetan-speaking children does require attention to and representation of others' states of knowledge and belief.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Licensed to Smith College and distributed CC-BY under the Smith College Faculty Open Access Policy


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