Cognitive factive verbs across languages

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In the last few years, the traditional analysis of know as a factive verb has been lively debated by linguists and philosophers of language: several scholars have pointed out that know may be used non-factively in ordinary language. The aim of the present study is to expand this inquiry to other cognitive factive verbs than know, such as discover, realize, etc., and to investigate cross-linguistically the question of whether know and other cognitive factive verbs may occur in non-factive contexts, that is, in contexts where it is clear that the embedded proposition is false. Moreover, we investigate whether so-called evidential uses of cognitive factive verbs are acceptable across languages. We administered an online survey to native speakers of nine different languages (English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, and Swedish), and we found considerable cross-linguistic variation in the acceptability of the use of know and other cognitive factive verbs in non-factive contexts. For Italian and English, we put forward the claim that non-factive uses of cognitive factives instantiate a case of polysemy resulting from a process of semantic change that moves along a three-step pattern: from a factive sense to a more general non-factive sense to a non-factive sense characterized by an evidential function.
TidskriftLanguage Sciences
StatusPublished - 2022

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Jämförande språkvetenskap och lingvistik


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