A Study on evidentiality in Cypriot Turkish and Turkey Turkish with a cross-linguistic perspective

Işık Taş, Elvan Eda
Sağın Şimşek, Sultan Çiğdem
A number of studies have thus far compared grammatical features of Turkey Turkish and Cypriot Turkish and have identified the realization of evidentiality as one of the distinguishing features of these two varieties. According to these studies, in Turkey Turkish while the morpheme -DI is used to report witnessed events (direct experience), the morpheme –mIş is used to express hearsay, reported or inferred information (indirect experience) (e.g., Aksu-Koç, 1995). In Cypriot Turkish, on the other hand, hearsay, reported or inferred information (indirect experience) is expressed mainly with the morpheme –DI, as –mIş does not possess any indirect or inferential meaning and is mainly used to describe dubitative function (Demir, 2002). This study aims to explore, first, whether variation exists regarding the functions of evidentials used in the oral productions of Turkey Turkish and Cypriot Turkish speakers. If yes, the study also aims to explore whether the difference between the two varieties can be explained due to language contact phenomenon. Evidentiality in Turkey Turkish and Cypriot Turkish has not been extensively researched and the few existing studies (Brendemoen, 1996; Demir, 2002; Demir & Johanson, 2006; Abdurrazzak, 2012) are based on the observations of the language use of the Cypriot Turkish participants or the linguistic analysis of the early literary works and are thus descriptive. In this sense, we believe that by utilizing an exploratory methodology, the present study will contribute to the linguistic and cross-linguistic analysis of the evidentials in the Cypriot Turkish. The data were collected from four groups of participants. The first group consisted of native speaker Cypriot Turkish university students aged between 18-22. We assumed that the participants in this group would be more sensitive to the perception and production of evidentials in Turkey Turkish since they interacted with their Turkey Turkish speaking peers. The second group were native Cypriot Turkish speakers of ages 50 and above, who lived in historical Cypriot Turkish villages. We assumed that the participants in this group had more experience with the Greek language but less contact with Turkey Turkish compared to the participants of the first group. Accordingly, their production preferences and perception abilities of evidentials would be different than the participants in the first group. The third and the fourth groups comprised native Turkey Turkish speakers of comparable ages to the first and the second groups of speakers respectively. The first task, in the form of an interview, aimed to reveal how evidentials were expressed by the participants and required the participants to answer questions about their direct and indirect past experiences. The second task aimed to examine how the evidentials used by the native Turkish and Cypriot Turkish speakers were perceived by one another. The task was developed utilizing the data obtained in the first task and required the participants to read the experiences/anecdotes and response to the questions asking whether they reported direct or indirect experiences. The data analysis so far highlighted significant variation in the grammatical and lexical expression of evidentiality across the two varieties. Regardless of their ages, Turkey Turkish speakers used –DI to express their direct experiences and –mIş to express indirect experiences. The Cypriot Turkish speakers, on the other hand, behaved differently. While the older group used –DI as the main evidential marker indicating both direct and indirect experiences together with some lexical elements, the younger group used both –DI and –mIş to express indirect experiences. Another important finding so far seems to be that Turkey Turkish speakers interpreted all instances of -DI in the perception task as “witnessed events” and misinterpreted the instances in which Cypriot Turkish speakers used this morpheme to report hearsay of indirect evidence. These results are likely related to the language contact of Cypriot Turkish with the Greek and Turkish languages. Presumably due to the influence from Greek, Cypriot Turkish lacked indirect evidential marker -mIş but included more of lexical elements indicating indirect experience. However, the increasing contact with the Turkey Turkish language seemed to result in the use of –mIş as an indicator of indirect experience but still supported by lexical elements.


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Citation Formats
E. E. Işık Taş and S. Ç. Sağın Şimşek, “A Study on evidentiality in Cypriot Turkish and Turkey Turkish with a cross-linguistic perspective,” presented at the International Conference on Evidentiality and Modality ICEM′18 (19 - 22 Eylül 2018), Madrid, Spain, 2018, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/78062.