Colorado Research in Linguistics

Document Type

Working Paper


This paper argues that the Bolanci complementizer na has an inherent semantics capable of changing the meaning of sentences in which it is embedded. Specifically, I show that the presence of na in a complex sentence communicates evidential meanings distinct from those communicated by analogous sentences lacking na. The present analysis challenges linguistic approaches that regard complementizers as grammatical morphemes devoid of semantic content, whose main function is to signal the subordinate status of the following embedded clause. I argue that the foremost function of na is to code indirect evidence. The indirect evidence coded by na is of three types. The unifying generalization about the function of na with all three types of indirect evidence is that na introduces propositional content that is not directly witnessed and that cannot be directly validated by the speaker.

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