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Journal Articles E-rea - Revue électronique d’études sur le monde anglophone Year : 2018

On the Margins of Perception - TO-Clauses: A Standard Construction of Perception Verbs?

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Abstract

The main objective of this corpus-based study is to provide an account for the fact that, contrary to what some grammars postulate, TO-infinitive clauses can be – and are – used in the complementation of perception verbs in the active. The analysis seeks to answer the underlying question of whether the norms or usages mentioned in prescriptive or descriptive grammars influence the way speakers use such constructions (perception verb + NP + TO-infinitival), while confronting these norms and usages to evidence provided by attested examples. Three varieties of English – British, American and Canadian English – are thus compared so as to identify: how frequently TO-infinitivals occur as complements; which verbs take this type of complement; and in which variety and in which register they are frequently used. It is shown that the utterances provided by the corpora contradict the norms that are prescribed or described in grammars. The study puts forward a semantic explanation as to the (in)compatibility of perception verbs with TO-infinitivals, partly based on the types of these verbs. It also demonstrates that the sentences sometimes convey a meaning of sensory perception, even if an interpretation of mental judgement or inference – often mentioned in grammars – is more frequent.
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hal-02170646 , version 1 (10-10-2022)

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Christelle Lacassain-Lagoin. On the Margins of Perception - TO-Clauses: A Standard Construction of Perception Verbs?. E-rea - Revue électronique d’études sur le monde anglophone, 2018, Standardisation and Variation in English Language(s), 15.2 (15.2), ⟨10.4000/erea.6283⟩. ⟨hal-02170646⟩

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