The expression evidentiality in Luganda


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Linguistics, English Language Studies and Communication Skills


This study examines the expression of evidentiality in Luganda, a Bantu language spoken in Central Uganda. Speakers use evidentials to indicate the source or evidence for their statements. In languages with evidentiality systems, expressions like ‘We hear that’ would carry a mark indicating that the speaker does not have first hand information. Evidentials are important in communication because they show the way people organize their thoughts through the language they speak. The grammatical sub-category of evidentiality has been ignored in grammatical descriptions of Luganda. Even the recent studies on modality only cover the closely related sub-category of epistemic modality—the expression of the speaker’s opinion or attitude towards the proposition expressed by the sentence. The aim of this study is to provide a detailed description of evidentiality marking through the analysis of data from a 6 million-word Luganda electronic text corpus, as well as interviews with selected native speakers.