Comprehension of Evidentiality in Spoken Turkish: Comparing Monolingual and Bilingual Speakers

  • Author / Creator
    Karaca, Figen
  • This thesis investigated the comprehension of evidentiality in Turkish heritage speakers and first generation immigrants, in comparison to monolingual speakers using a self-paced listening task. The question of how individual differences, such as the speakers’ proficiency and language environment may modulate their processing was also addressed.
    Evidentiality refers to the encoding of the source of information, and in Turkish it is conveyed by means of the past tense suffixes -DI and –mIş. More precisely, the information gathered through indirect experience, such as third-party narration and inference based on evidence, requires the use of the suffix –mIş ‘indirect experience’, whereas directly experienced events require using the suffix –DI ‘direct experience’. At the same time, the claim that the suffix –DI consistently conveys direct experience in Turkish is argued to be fallacious by Johanson (2003, 2018), according to whom the suffix –mIş ‘indirect experience’ is the marked form and the suffix –DI ‘direct experience’ is its unmarked counterpart in the evidentiality domain. The intricate discourse-dependencies of these suffixes have been argued to cause problems for both heritage speakers and first generation immigrants (Arslan, De Kok, & Bastiaanse, 2017; Arslan, Bastiaanse, & Felser, 2015). Yet, how individual differences modulate the processing of evidentiality has not been examined.
    Accordingly, in this thesis, the sensitivity of monolinguals, heritage speakers, and first generation immigrants to the violations of evidentiality was examined. In addition, the role of the proficiency level and the language environment of the participants in the processing of evidentiality was also investigated. The findings of this thesis inform our understanding of evidentiality in Turkish in that the suffixes –DI ‘direct experience’ and –mIş ‘indirect experience’ are not on equal footing. The incongruity of the suffix –mIş ‘indirect experience’ induced early and greater processing difficulty, whereas that of the suffix –DI ‘direct experience’ caused a late and less intense processing difficulty for monolingual speakers. First generation immigrants were slower than monolingual speakers but their performance eventually paralleled that of monolingual speakers in the incongruity of the suffix –mIş ‘indirect experience’. In the case of the suffix –DI ‘direct experience’, no such effect was observed, which may be explained by either slow processing or attrition. Finally, heritage speakers did not show any sensitivity to the incongruity of either suffix. In terms, of individual variables, the richness of the Turkish environment modulated how first generation immigrants processed both suffixes, whereas Turkish use in early childhood modulated how heritage speakers processed one of the two suffixes, the suffix –mIş ‘indirect experience’.
    To recapitulate, this thesis suggests that the suffixes –DI ‘direct experience’ and –mIş ‘indirect experience’ are not equally violable in the first place. It also argues that evidentiality is indeed a vulnerable domain in Turkish as a heritage language, whereas it does not necessarily undergo attrition in the case of first generation immigrants in that the possibility of similar, but slower processing should also be considered. The question of how individual differences modulate the sensitivity to incongruent uses of the suffixes –DI ‘direct experience’ and –mIş ‘indirect experience’ remained unanswered due to the limited number of first generation immigrants and heritage speakers in this study, though the Turkish richness and Turkish use in early childhood were significant predictors of how these suffixes were processed regardless of congruency.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
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