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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 Tables Table 1 Occurrences of evidential see in English language corpora 54 Table 2 Occurrences of evidential sehen in German language corpora 86 Table 3 Occurrences of evidential look in English language corpora 115 Table 4 Occurrences of evidential aussehen in German language corpora 126 Table 5 Occurrences of evidential hear in English language corpora 136 Table 6 Occurrences of evidential hören in German language corpora 155 Table 7 Occurrences of evidential sound in English language corpora 168 Table 8 Occurrences of evidential klingen in German language corpora 176 Table 9 Occurrences of evidential feel in English language corpora 188 Table 10 Occurrences of evidential fühlen in German language corpora 202

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