This paper attempts to present a functional description of epistemic adverbs in Ewe, a Kwa language spoken in parts of southern Ghana, Togo and Benin. Epistemic modality involves the semantic notions of "certainty", "probability", "possibility" and "impossibility" (see e.g. Nuyts 2001). These notions are encoded by linguistic devices, which indicate the level or lack of the speaker's confidence in the evaluation, or the truth, of a proposition. Ewe expresses epistemic modality by means of a range of linguistic devices. Among these are a group of adverbs, i.e., gódóo and kòkòkò 'certainly', ɖewómáhi 'perhaps' and tanyóa 'all being good (maybe).' Gódóó and kòkòkò, which express epistemic modality, and have some other properties which can be explained in terms of a number of underlying factors such as their syntagmatic distribution and relation with other clause elements.
Selected Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference on African Linguistics: African Languages in Context
edited by Michael R. Marlo, Nikki B. Adams, Christopher R. Green, Michelle Morrison, and Tristan M. Purvis
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