Academic journal article Trames

Indirectal in Literary Estonian

Academic journal article Trames

Indirectal in Literary Estonian

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The morphology, mostly verb morphology, of languages with grammatical evidentiality expresses the origin of information. According to Willet's (1988: 57-58) typology, the most common evidentiality opposition is that between direct and indirect evidentiality. Direct evidentiality refers to information relying on a speaker's perception. Indirect evidentiality can be divided into reported evidentiality and inferred (inferential) evidentiality. Reported information can be hearsay or folklore. Hearsay evidentiality has become grammaticalised in the Estonian language, occurring in the indirectal category.

The term indirectal relates to the category of the mode of reporting in the Estonian grammar, on which basis Ratsep established the system of moods in the Estonian language. The mode of reporting is a supra-moodal verb category whose two members--the direct mode of reporting or the directal and the mediated mode of reporting or the indirectal--can be differentiated on the basis of the source of information: in the former case the source of information is identified with the speaker, while in the latter the speaker acts as a mediator. Direct modes of reporting are indicative, conditional and direct imperative. The indirectal is a verb category that morphologically occurs in two moods--quotative and reported imperative (Ratsep 1971:58-59).

A recent academic grammar of Estonian makes no reference to the indirectal as an independent verb category. The mode of reporting is one of the grammatical meanings expressed in a verb's mood category. The indirect mode of reporting or the reportive nature of information rendered by a sentence is expressed by the quotative mood; the reportive nature of a command is expressed by the jussive (Erelt et al. 1993:34-37). The morphological moods of Estonian rely on the opposition of direct and reported information. The Estonian quotative mood and the jussive express reported evidentiality which is a subtype of indirect evidentiality.

In actual language usage the function of indirectal moods is performed by several morphological, lexico-morphological and syntactic means. Traditional form-focused language description methods do not allow the treatment of linguistic means with identical functions as members of one and the same category which is why in the present article Ratsep's (1971:61) purely morphological category of mode of reporting is extended. I shall take into account both functional and semantic properties of a linguistic means to provide a uniform description of all forms of expression of the indirectal mode of reporting in literary Estonian regardless of whether they form a morphological paradigm or not.

Mode of reporting is a functional-semantic category whose members are, depending on the source of information, the directal and the indirectal which serve two types of communication aims: statement and command. The object of research of the present article is restricted to the means of expression of the reported or indirect statement in literary Estonian. The research is corpus-based; the analysed literary language material comprises journalistic and fiction texts over the period of one hundred years. Journalistic language and fiction are two central registers of literary language which, on the one hand, influence and shape and, on the other hand, reflect public literary usage. Qualitative research of those two gives an insight into the existing indirectal means of expression in the literary language. The aim is to explain and compare the share and dynamics of indirectal means of expression in literary Estonian based on the example of two sublanguages. The problems of direct (the imperative) and reported (the jussive) command have been discussed by Erelt (2002b) and Erelt and Metslang (2004).

Viewing the indirectal as a functional-semantic category enables a looser codescription of lexical and grammatical transitions and to point to the category's lexical (or lexical-syntactic etc. …

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