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Query Details

Query Subject:   'Have' Meaning 'Perceive'
Author:   J-C Khalifa
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Pragmatics

Query:   I'm still working on causatives and perception verbs; some of the great
XXth century descriptive grammarians of English have indeed pointed to some
interesting overlaps in meaning, e.g. :

"Further, have stands with an accusative (commonly of the person) and the
pure infinitive, if have imports as much as to have in the reach of one's
perception or experience." (Maetzner, vol. III, p. 8)

and conversely,

"To see sometimes appears in a modified meaning, approximating to that of
1. to have: I should like to see you do it. Francis in the moment of
triumph saw himself confronted by a new rival. Green, Sh. Hist., Sect V, 322
2. To cause, to attend to: see these letters delivered. Merch., II, 2, 123"
(Poutsma, I, 2, p. 573)

and I was wondering whether there were any languages where the verb HAVE,
when it exists, can take a perception value, or conversely, SEE can be
treated as a causative verb.

I'm also curious to know whether there are many languages where pairs like
SEE / LOOK AT or HEAR / LISTEN TO are rendered with the same verb, but in a
different construction. I know it seems to be the case for Japanese, at
least for SEE (miru), but I'd welcome any example in any language.

Also, in view of the classic examples (borrowed from Kirsner & Thompson 1976):

The delirious patient saw the room spinning around him (but we know it
wasn't spinning)

While on that drug, Grace watched little green men dancing on her belly
(but of course there weren't any little green men)

When the neurologist stimulated that particular area of her brain, Susan
saw the light turn red (even though it really did not)

People suffering from auditory diseases often hear bells ring and whistles

I was just wondering whether there were any languages that would mark
"false perceptions" differently from "real" ones, in the same way as,
say, evidentials, and in which the above examples would then take a
different verbal morphology, or case-marking, or word order, than, say
John saw Mary dancing with Fred, or any other "normal" example of perceived

Thanks in advance, of course I'll post a summary if I get enough
interesting material.

Jean-Charles Khalifa
LL Issue: 17.128
Date posted: 16-Jan-2006


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