Mirativity as Surprise: Evidentiality, Information, and Deixis

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13 Scopus citations


The goal of this paper is to investigate the linguistic, psychological and cognitive properties of utterances that express the surprise of the speaker, with a focus on how grammatical evidentials are used for this purpose. This is often labeled in the linguistics literature as mirativity. While there has been a flurry of recent interest in mirativity, we still lack an understanding of how and why evidentials are used this way, and an explanation of this effect. In this paper I take steps to filling this gap by showing how the mirativity associated with grammatical evidentials is one of the many linguistic reflexes of the more general cognitive process of surprise. I approach this by analyzing mirativity, and the language of surprise more generally, in a schema-theoretic framework enriched with the notion of new environmental information. I elaborate on the field methodological issues involved with testing the mirative use of an evidential and why they are used this way by connecting mirative evidentials to the broader phenomenon of deixis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1327-1357
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Bayesian surprise
  • Deixis
  • Grammatical evidentiality
  • Information theory
  • Mirativity
  • Probability
  • Schema theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Psychology(all)


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