Evidentiality is, broadly, the indication of the nature of evidence for a given statement; that is, whether evidence exists for the statement and/or what kind of evidence exists.1

Evidential Type Meaning English Example
Direct Speaker has direct evidence, most likely visual. "The house burned down. I watched it burn."
Sensory Speaker has indirect sensory evidence. "The house burned down. I smelled it's charred remains from a distance."
Inferential Speaker saw circumstantial evidence. "The house burned down. I saw smoke rising from it's area."
Reportative Speaker is reporting what someone else told (which could be hearsay). "The house burned down. They mentioned it on the news."

The use of evidentiality has pragmatic implications. For example, a person who makes a false statement qualified as inferential or reportative may be considered mistaken; a person who makes a false statement qualified as a personally-observed fact will probably be considered to have lied.

Hilinqwo can express evidentiality with express words:

Butros vastendat pyrom. The house burned down.2
Okœ butros vastendat pyrom. Direct visual: "I watched it burn."
Osœ butros vastendat pyrom. Indirect auditory: "I heard it burning."
Rumœ butros vastendat pyrom. Acknowledged hearsay: "Rumor has it that…"

Types of Evidentiality

  • Witness vs. Nonwitness
  • Firsthand vs. Secondhand vs. Thirdhand
  • Sensory (visual, auditory, olfactory, etc.)

Claim of Validity

  • Direct: "I know for a fact that…"
  • Speculative: "It is likely/probable/possible that…"
  • Inferential: "We can conclude that…"
  • Reportative: "Someone else said that…"
    • Quotative: "(specific person) said that…"
    • Hearsay: "Rumor has it that…"
  • Assumptive: "I assume that…"