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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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Acknowledgements xi


Acknowledgements This book is a revised version of my PhD thesis, which I completed at the University of California, Berkeley, during Spring 2008. I must therefore acknowledge the invaluable assistance and support of my dissertation com- mittee: Thomas Shannon, Irmengard Rauch, and Eve Sweetser. Portions of my research were conducted at the Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany, and I owe a debt of gratitude to all my colleagues there who pro- vided me with their advice and support: Gabriele Diewald, Elena Smirnova, Timm Lehmberg, Marijana Kresic, and Daniela Kolbe. Colleagues here at the University of Manchester have also lent me their support during the final stages of this project, and I would like to thank Martin Durrell, Silke Scheible, Filippo Nereo, Nuria Yáñez-Bouza, and David Denison for their assistance. Portions of this research have been presented at a number of conferences, and I must thank the members of the audience who provided invaluable comments and suggestions, particularly Anne Curzan, Colette Moore, Peter Grund, and Tonya Kim Dewey. Finally I am grateful to Peter Lutzeier for believing in my work and allowing me to include it in his book series, as well as to assistance provided by the staff of Peter Lang during the final stages of publication. Financial support for this project was provided by the Fulbright Com- mission and the Graduate Division of UC Berkeley, to which I am most grateful. On a more personal note, there are a number of friends in various and sundry places...

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