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The role of evidentiality in Bulgarian children's reliability judgments*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 October 2008

Queen's University
Address for correspondence: Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 2N6, Canada. Email:


Evidentials are grammatical source-of-knowledge markers. In Bulgarian they provide information about authorship – whether the speaker has personally acquired the information or not – and modality – whether perceptual or cognitive mechanisms were involved in the information's generation. In two experiments, Bulgarian kindergarteners and third-graders (ages 6 and 9, N=96) had to decide which one of two utterances containing different evidentials to believe. Experiment 1 showed that children draw on modality information in their decisions: Third-graders favored perceptual over cognitive and kindergartners cognitive over perceptual sources. Experiment 2 showed that third-graders can also draw on the authorship information carried by evidentials: they favored first- over second-hand information. The discussion focuses on understanding the development of children's use of evidentials.

Copyright © 2008 Cambridge University Press

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The research was supported by grants from the Mario Einaudi Center for International Study and the Cognitive Studies Program at Cornell University. Special thanks to Stephen J. Ceci, Frank C. Keil and Sally MacConnell-Ginet for helpful discussions of the project, to Ana Raikova, Pepi Kolarova and Nedyalka Fileva for facilitating its completion, and to Mark Sabbagh for penetrating comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.



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