Sunday, January 27, 2008

Taylor Mali stand-up routine

For your viewing pleasure, a stand-up routine predicated on the (supposedly) increasing usage of evidential/epistemic tags, or decreasing usage of outright declarative assertions, in English:

The person doing the routine [1], Taylor Mali, presents himself as having issues with the lack of certainty conveyed by utterances tagged with elements like "you know," or with a question intonation. I wonder if this stand-up routine would fly in front of native speakers of Cree and Quechua, where utterances with evidential/epistemic interpretations are more common than outright assertions?

Not sure what else to say when one of my favourite procrastination methods (Stumble-Upon) leads me to a YouTube video that is directly relevant to my research. Maybe the research gods are trying to tell me that I've been procrastinating too much and should get back to work...
[1] I've looked him up a bit - I thought he was a comedian, but it turns out he's a teacher and "slam poet" - so maybe it isn't a stand-up routine, but a poetry slam.


taxitalk said...

Def poet society HBO every sunday, you can't HBO in canada Right? Ha

aislin stott said...

Man, I was just reading an article on this intonation! Ladd, in his 1996 book Intonational Phonology, calls it the North American Rise (NAR).

But is this really an evidential or epistemic tag? I mean, 'you know' probably is, but I'm not convinced about the NAR.

meagan louie said...

Er, perhaps I could answer this question if I knew what evidentials and epistemic modals really were, but I swear, the more I look at them, the less certain I am.

But I think it is a way for the speaker to indicate that the utterance they are making is less than a categorical assertion...whether or not that makes it an evidential/epistemic tag, who knows : D