This study investigates the development of the multifunctional lexeme aya in Paiwan, a Formosan language spoken in the southern part of Taiwan. Though the lexeme aya has long been identified as having utterance-related usages, few studies were devoted to examining the morphosyntactic behavior of the lexeme, nor did any of these studies provide a systematic account of the relations and the development of its various usages. Based on data collected from fieldwork as well as from One hundred Paiwan texts, this study identifies two major functional domains of aya, represented by say verb aya and demonstrative aya: these two instances of aya display distinct morphosyntactic behavior in addition to their diverse functions. Say verb aya is grammaticalized as a quotative marker, a complementizer-like marker, and an evidential marker, while demonstrative aya develops into a stance marker. Despite these two seemingly unrelated development paths, say verb aya and demonstrative aya do share some features in common. It is proposed that Paiwan say verb aya, predominantly used in direct quotation of speech events, is inherently encoded with two important features, mimeticity and deicticity, and, therefore, provides a mechanism from which demonstrative aya evolved.
This study has theoretical and typological implications. Theoretically, it points out one important yet frequently overlooked fact: that say verbs, especially those predominantly used in direct quotation of speech events, are intrinsically mimetic and deictic and, therefore, may function as the origin from which demonstrative elements derive. This study also provides insight for further typological studies related to say verbs in Formosan languages and other languages in the world at large.