University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


This paper is concerned with the acquisition of the semantics and pragmatics of evidential markers in Turkish. Evidential markers encode the speaker’s source for the information being reported in the utterance. Turkish grammaticalizes evidentiality in two different past tense markers: -DI (past of direct experience) and –mIş (past of indirect experience). In this article, we report findings from three studies conducted with Turkish learners between the ages of 5 and 7 that test the acquisition of both the semantics of evidentiality (Exp.1-2) and the pragmatic effects associated with evidential markers (Exp.3). Our results show that Turkish-speaking children between the ages of 5 and 7 produce morphemes for past events appropriately but are only beginning to discover the evidential dimensions of these morphemes. Furthermore, of the two evidential morphemes, -DI which encodes direct evidence is understood before –mIş which encodes indirect evidence. We discuss implications of these results for the learning challenges posed by evidentiality.