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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton March 19, 2010

Reference and clausal perception-verb complements

  • Kasper Boye
From the journal


Clausal perception-verb complements are known to show a contrast in meaning between “object of perception” and “knowledge acquired”. This contrast has traditionally been analyzed denotationally in terms of a distinction between extra-linguistic entities belonging to two ontologically different types. However, Cognitive Grammar offers an analysis which is based on a distinction between two ways of construing the same conceptual content and does not presuppose the relevant notion of extra-linguistic entities. The present paper argues that both analyses are inadequate. On the basis of a number of relevant crosslinguistic data, it argues that the contrast under scrutiny must be understood in terms of a distinction which turns on a certain link between conceptual contents and extra-linguistic entities: reference. More precisely, it must be understood in terms of a distinction between nonreferring and referring status in the sense of Lyons 1977. A conception of this distinction is outlined, and an analysis is proposed which can bridge the gap between a purely cognitive and a purely denotational approach to clause meaning. Eventually, the paper sketches how the analysis can be adopted within Cognitive Grammar.

Dept. of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 120, DK-2300 Copenhagen 8, Denmark. E-mail:

Received: 2007-10-18
Revised: 2008-03-12
Published Online: 2010-03-19
Published in Print: 2010-March

© 2010 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/New York

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