On direct/indirect perception with verbs of seeing and seeming in English and Lithuanian

Aurelia Usoniene

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Abstract

The number of meanings that can be found in the dictionary entries of the verb SEE in various languages ranges from 9 to 30:1.
Language No of meanings Vision Mental process
Lithuanian 20 + +
English 28-30 + +
Swedish 4-5 (15) + +
Russian 9 + +
On a closer look at the definitions of the meanings and the examples given we shall see that they fall into two basic types of meaning, namely (a) those that are related to or based on vision, and (b) those that are related to some
mental process. According to Sweetser 1993, one of the basic reasons accounting for the given polysemy is a metaphorical change of meaning that basically proceeds “from concrete to abstract”, and what the scholar calls “the Mind-as-Body Metaphor” (Sweetser 1993:29). In the present study, the
given opposition will be regarded as somewhat parallel to direct vs. indirect perception, and a lot of the attention will be devoted to the statistical analysis of the ratio of these two features in the usage of verbs of seeing and seeming. As the given semantic opposition is very much complement-type-dependent, the focus will be basically on the interaction of syntax and semantics on the example of the analysis of various types of verb complementation. It is mainly right-hand complementation and the stimulus position that will be dealt with in the given paper. Viberg’s 1993 research results of the 20 most frequent verbs in 11 European languages (English, German, Swedish; French, Spanish, Italian, Rumanian; Russian, Polish; Finnish, Hungarian) show that the field of perception is represented by the key verb denoting visual perception, namely the verb see. The purpose of this paper is to try to find out which type of meaning dominates, and whether it is a direct or an indirect (mental) type of perception that makes these verbs get to the top of frequency lists of the two languages (http://www.itri.bton.ac.uk/~Adam.Kilgarriff/bnc-readme.htm, Grumadiene & Zilinskiene 1997).
Original languageEnglish
Volume48
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameWorking Papers, Lund University, Dept. of Linguistics
Volume48

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics

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