Implicit and explicit meaning of the Basque particle bide

Implicit and explicit meaning of the Basque particle bide

Basque language, compared to its neighbouring languages, has a set of particles that indicate the speaker’s source of knowledge —evidential element— and/or her stance towards the truth of the proposition expressed —epistemic or doxastic element. In this paper, we discuss the status of both elements in the case of the particle bide, aiming to contribute to its semantic and pragmatic studies.

The particle has been associated to the two dimensions: (1) to an evidential dimension, as an inferential particle (e.g., Novia de Salcedo, 1887 and de Rijk, 2008); (2) to a doxastic dimension, namely, to the expression of a certain degree of belief or certainty on the truth of the proposition (van Eys, 1873 and Euskaltzaindia, 1987, among others). We argue that both dimensions are present in a bide-sentence: uttering a bide-sentence, the speaker asserts the proposition she would assert had she uttered a sentence without bide, but communicates additional evidential and doxastic information.

Specifically, she conveys that the evidence for the belief she expresses is indirect (bide encodes this indirectness) and, generally, that she is not completely certain about its truth. We propose a speech-act theoretic account of bide: it is an illocutionary force indicator. First, the evidential aspect is part of its preparatory condition —it presupposes that the speaker’s evidence for the truth of her bide-assertion is indirect. Second, the doxastic aspect combines two kinds of meaning: (1) bide-assertions express the speaker’s belief on the truth of its propositional content; (2) an expression of not absolute certainty is also commonly, but not always, present. Then, we propose two alternative accounts of the doxastic dimension: (a) it is a semantic non-truth-conditional meaning that constrains the degree of strength of the speaker’s belief; or (b) it is a GCI.

We supplement our conceptual discussion with corpus data and questionnaires.



Euskaltzaindia [The Royal Academy of the Basque language]. (1987). Euskal Gramatika: Lehen Urratsak II. Bilbao: Euskaltzaindia.

Novia de Salcedo, Pedro. (1887). Diccionario Etimológico del Idioma Bascongado. Tolosa: Eusebio López.

Rijk, Rudolf P. G. de. (2008). Standard Basque: a Progressive Grammar. Vol. 1: The grammar. Cambridge (Massachusetts): MIT Press.

van Eys, Willem J. (1873). Dictionnaire Basque-Français. Paris: Maisonneuve; London: Williams and Norgate.


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