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Perception verbs and the conceptualization of the senses: The case of Avatime

Authors
  • van Putten, Saskia1
  • 1 Radboud University, PO Box 9103, 6500 HD , (Netherlands)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Linguistics
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Apr 03, 2020
Volume
58
Issue
2
Pages
1–38
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/ling-2020-0039
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Languages differ in their number of basic verbs that describe perceptual experience. Some languages have only two such verbs: one for visual perception and another for non-visual perception. How do speakers of these languages conceptualize sensory perception? To shed light on this question, this paper investigates the perception verbs mɔ̀ ‘see’ and nu ‘hear/feel/taste/smell’ in Avatime (Kwa, Niger-Congo). These verbs are studied together with the constructions in which they occur, using both translated data and spontaneous discourse. Both perception meanings and meanings outside the domain of perception are taken into account. The detailed picture that emerges shows some previously undocumented patterns of perception encoding and enriches our understanding of the conceptualization of the senses more generally.

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