Verbs with an Attitude

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The aim of this paper is to investigate some semantic and syntactical properties of verbs of propositional attitude, using data from English, German, Swedish, Italian and Gallipolino (a dialect from South Italy). The work is based on the distinction between situational and actional attitude as proposed by Ray Jackendoff (Jackendoff, Language, Consciousness and Culture, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2007). Within this theoretical framework, two types of propositional attitude verbs will be distinguished: believe-verbs, which express a situational attitude, i.e. an attitude one can adopt toward any situation, at any time; and intend-verbs, which express an actional attitude, i.e. an attitude one must adopt toward an action in which one is oneself the Actor (a self-initiated action). It will be shown how syntax expresses the distinction between verbs of situational attitude and verbs of actional attitude by means of different complement clauses: a finite clause introduced by a subordinator (SUB-clause) is the typical complement construction selected by verbs of situational attitude; an infinitival clause is the standard structure that goes with verbs of actional attitude. Furthermore, it will be pointed out that there are at least three different syntactical behaviours for the respective complement systems with verbs of propositional attitude: in languages like Italian and German, all verbs of situational attitude select both finite SUB-clauses and (given coreferential subjects) infinitival clauses; in languages like Swedish and Gallipolino, verbs of situational attitude (excepted hope, fear, like and wish) select only finite SUB-clauses; in languages like English, some verbs of situational attitude select both finite SUB-clauses and (given coreferential subjects) infinitival clauses; in all languages, all verbs of actional attitude select only infinitival clauses (or the corresponding ku-clauses in Gallipolino). Finally, I will offer some critical remarks on Jackendoff’s hypothesis that believe and intend express the same attitude (‘commitment’), differing only in that believe is directed at a non-Action and intend at an Action.


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Sidor (från-till)257-272
TidskriftKwartalnik Neofilologiczny
Utgåva nummer3
StatusPublished - 2011
Peer review utfördJa


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