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Seminar: Egophoricity, engagement and the centring of subjectivity - Alan Rumsey, 7 Oct

Alan Rumsey, Australian National University, Evolution

Date: 27 September 2016

When: 3:30am-5:00pm, Fri 07 Oct 2016

Where: Engma Room (5019), HC Coombs Building, ANU


In what are called ‘egophoric’ or ‘conjunct/disjunct’ systems formal patterns that are associated with first person subjects in declarative sentences are associated with second person subjects in questions.  From a functional viewpoint this difference in formal patterning is associated with a difference in the centring of subjectivity, whereby, for example, epistemic authority regarding the state of affairs that is described in a declarative sentence is vested with the speaker, whereas in a question it is vested in the addressee. Conjunct/disjunct patterning of this kind is but one instance of a wide range of phenomena that involve more-or-less regular shifts in the usual centring of subjectivity as between speaker and addressee. In my presentation for the symposium I will examine three other such phenomena. I will compare and contrast them with conjunct/disjunct patterning and ask what, if anything is special about the latter. Evidence for my argument will be drawn from the Ku Waru language of Highland Papua New Guinea --- with particular emphasis on interactions between young children and adults --- and from comparison with other languages. The phenomena to be considered include interactions between person marking and intentional modality, shifts between speaker-centred and addressee-centred kinship terms when used in direct address, and the prompting of children with utterances that are voiced as if from the child’s perspective

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University