The Learnability of Evidential Systems in the Case of L1 Bulgarian and L2 English

Zlatomira Ilchovska, Jennifer Culbertson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Evidentiality represents the abstract grammatical system encoding the source of information (Aikhenvald, 2004), and one hypothesis is that evidential systems' development in languages could be explained through the action of cognitive biases on language learning (Fedzechkina et al., 2012). Consequently, this article tests the learnability of different two-category (Aikhenvald, 2004) evidential systems, in a semi-artificial language learning experiment with Bulgarian speakers, and hypothesizes to reflect the typological pattern of those systems' distribution in the world languages. The alternative hypothesis predicts that the learnability of the evidential systems would depend on the languages that the participants speak and would be influenced by a morphosyntactic transfer from participants' native language - the grammatically evidential “Non-firsthand versus ‘everything else’“ (Aikhenvald, 2004) Bulgarian. Despite the fact that the mixed-model analyses performed on accuracy and response time did not display any significant effect or interaction (p > 0.1), the small trends showed by the results possibly reflect a salient cognitive and semantic distinction between direct and indirect evidential information that is easier for acquisition, compared to marking which violates this categorisation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Linguistic Evidence 2018
Subtitle of host publicationExperimental Data Drives Linguistic Theory
Place of PublicationGermany
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • evidentiality
  • L2 acquisition
  • L1 transfer
  • Bulgarian
  • English


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