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LINGUIST List 19.972

Sat Mar 22 2008

Diss: Historical Ling/Pragmatics/Semantics/Syntax: Whitt: 'Evidenti...'

Editor for this issue: Evelyn Richter <evelynlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Richard Whitt, Evidentiality and Perception Verbs in English and German: A corpus-based analysis from the early modern period to the present

Message 1: Evidentiality and Perception Verbs in English and German: A corpus-based analysis from the early modern period to the present
Date: 20-Mar-2008
From: Richard Whitt <jasonwhittmindspring.com>
Subject: Evidentiality and Perception Verbs in English and German: A corpus-based analysis from the early modern period to the present
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Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Program: Department of German
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Richard Jason Whitt

Dissertation Title: Evidentiality and Perception Verbs in English and German: A
corpus-based analysis from the early modern period to the

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)
German, Standard (deu)

Dissertation Director(s):
Eve E. Sweetser
Irmengard Rauch
Thomas F. Shannon

Dissertation Abstract:

Perception verbs-those verbs denoting sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell-in
English and German are capable of signifying an evidential meaning in addition
to the general sense of perception, i.e. they encode the speaker's evidence for
the proposition. The type of evidence can be either direct (as in first-hand
perception) or indirect (as in hearsay or inference). There is virtually no
literature examining the evidential use of perception verbs in English and
German, and hence we know very little about how perception shaping our
epistemology is linguistically expressed in Germanic. My corpus-based study of
perception verbs in English and German from the Early Modern Period to the
Present reveals that not only is the high degree of polysemy expressed by some
perception verbs evinced in the evidential domain as well, but also that certain
evidential meanings are bound to certain complementation patterns/construction
types of the perception verbs.

In Chapter 1, I provide an overview of evidentiality and perception verbs,
discussing issues such as the nature of evidentiality and evidential meaning,
evidentiality's relationship to modality, evidential markers in English and
German, general perception verb typology, and the nature of an evidential
perception verb (i.e. a perception verb that deictically indicates evidential
meaning in addition to the denotation of sensory perception). I also discuss the
various complementation patterns or other types of constructions where
evidential meaning can be found (established by the corpus study): 1.
Perception Verb + Finite Complementizer Clause (PV + FCC); 2. Perception Verb +
Direct Object + Non-Finite Verb (PV + DO + NFV); 3. Perception Verb +
Prepositional Phrase (PV + PP); 4. Perception Verb + Adjective (PV + ADJ); 5.
Perception Verb + Conjunction + Clause (PV + CONJ + C); 6. Perception Verb +
(Infinitive Copula) + Adjective/Noun/Adjective + Noun (PV + {IC + ADJ; (IC) + N;
(IC) + ADJ + N}); English only; 7. Parenthetical Constructions (PARENTH); 8.
Perception Verb External to the Clause (EXT). I note how certain evidential
meanings are bound to specific complementation patterns/construction types (e.g.
direct perception is always found in the PV + DO + NFV construction but never
with parentheticals). I also discuss other issues germane to the topic of
evidentiality and perception verbs: polysemy, subjectivity and subjectivization,
bleaching and grammaticalization, and text type/genre.

In Chapter 2, I focus on the verbs of visual perception. SEE and LOOK from
English and German SEHEN and AUSSEHEN provide the data. I provide quantative
results of what types of complementation patterns each verb occurs in (where
evidential meaning can be found) and discuss the particulars of each verb.

Auditory perception is the focus of Chapter 3, with HEAR and SOUND serving as
the English data, while HÖREN, (SICH) ANHÖREN, and KLINGEN provide evidence from
German. Quantitative results are presented in tandem with discussions of
specific coomplementation patterns.

In Chapter 4, I examine English FEEL and German FÜHLEN in light of tactile

Given the small amount of data available for olfactory and gustatory perception,
both of these sensory modalities are covered in Chapter 5. SMELL and TASTE from
English and RIECHEN and SCHMECKEN from German serve as the basis for discussion.

Throughout the dissertation, I discuss issues such as the presence of modal
verbs or cognitive verbs (e.g. think) in conjunction with perception verbs, the
role of negation, and aspectual distinctions where relevant. I also focus on the
salient similarities and disparities between the English and German data.

In the conclusion I briefly summarize my findings, as well as suggest directions
for future research.

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