Complement of the SOUND-class Verb Construction

Hiromasa Itagaki


This paper examines the semantic constraint on the complement in the SOUND-class verb construction. The construction represents the evaluation of the subject reference via particular experience through perceptual modality designated by the verb of the construction, as shown in (i).

(i)    a. Jane sounds nice to Peter.

       b. Peter looks stupid.                                 (Gisborne 2010: 239)

In previous studies, the complement in this construction has to be gradable. This paper, nonetheless, will demonstrate that some SOUND-class verb constructions occur with the non-gradable complement. Furthermore, it will claim that the constructions can be classified into the following two types of the perceptual expressions. One — that the construction is felicitous if the non-gradable complements can be coerced into a gradable reading by virtue of a prototypical characteristic of the construction, and two — that the expressions encode not only evidentiality but also probability for the proposition. This means that the former type has the gradable restriction, whereas the latter is irrelevant to it. The solution implies that the perceptual construction can be polysemously divided into two different semantic classes: thus, the gradable constraint discussed in previous studies is partially imposed on the construction, that is, the former type of the construction.

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