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A corpus-based, cross-linguistic approach to mental predicates and their complementation: Performativity and descriptivity vis-à-vis boundedness and picturability

Karolina Krawczak, Małgorzata Fabiszak and Martin Hilpert
From the journal Folia Linguistica

Abstract

This corpus-based study investigates the complementation patterns of mental predicates in a cross-linguistic context. More precisely, it examines five equivalent mental verbs from English, German, and Polish and analyzes whether their complements are cognitively construed in different ways in first-person uses of those verbs as opposed to third-person uses. Two types of complementation are considered: we contrast nominal complements with clausal complements. Based on the results of prior studies into Polish myśleć ‘think’ and wierzyć ‘believe’, we hypothesize that first-person singular occurrences of mental predicates will be more readily associated with clausal complements designating non-bounded and non-picturable objects. Conversely, third-person uses of the verbs are expected to be linked to nominal complements that denote bounded and picturable objects. The hypotheses are tested with bivariate and multivariate quantitative techniques. Our results have both descriptive and theoretical implications. Descriptively, we aim to identify the differences in construing the complement of mental predicates, depending on the grammatical person of the syntactic subject. Theoretically, we provide empirical evidence that is relevant for the long-recognized distinction between performativity and descriptivity of mental verbs.

Acknowledgments

We would like to express our gratitude to the two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions. Our sincere thanks also extend to Hubert Cuyckens, the editor of Folia Linguistica, for his most constructive help. Any remaining shortcomings are our own.

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Received: 2015-8-4
Revised: 2015-11-17
Revised: 2016-3-17
Accepted: 2016-5-31
Published Online: 2016-11-8
Published in Print: 2016-11-1

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