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Evidentiality and Perception Verbs in English and German


Richard Jason Whitt

Evidentiality, the linguistic encoding of a speaker’s or writer’s evidence for an asserted proposition, has begun to receive serious attention from linguists only in the last quarter century. Much of this attention has focused on languages that encode evidentiality in the grammar, while much less interest has been shown in languages that express evidentiality through means other than inflectional morphology. In English and German, for instance, the verbs of perception – those verbs denoting sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste – are prime carriers of evidential meaning. This study surveys the most prominent of the perception verbs in English and German across all five sensory modalities and accounts for the range of evidential meanings by examining the general polysemy found among perception verbs, as well as the specific complementation patterns in which these verbs occur.


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List of Tables vii List of Abbreviations ix Acknowledgements xi Introduction 1 Chapter 1 Evidentiality and Perception Verbs: An Overview 5 1.1 Defining Evidentiality 6 1.2 Perception Verbs 19 1.3 Evidential Perception Verbs 26 1.4 Other Issues 39 1.5 The Data 48 1.6 Chapter Summary 51 Chapter 2 Visual Perception 53 2.1 see 53 2.2 sehen 85 2.3 look 114 2.4 aussehen 125 2.5 Chapter Summary 132 vi Chapter 3 Auditory Perception 135 3.1 hear 135 3.2 hören 154 3.3 sound 167 3.4 (sich) anhören 172 3.5 klingen 176 3.6 Chapter Summary 185 Chapter 4 Tactile Perception 187 4.1 feel 187 4.2 fühlen 202 4.3 Chapter Summary 212 Chapter 5 Olfactory and Gustatory Perception 213 5.1 Olfactory Perception 213 5.2 Gustatory Perception 216 5.3 Chapter Summary 218 Conclusion 219 Bibliography 225 Index 231

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