Singular perception, multiple perspectives through ‘we’

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This paper presents the results of a corpus-based investigation of the role of the first-person plural pronoun in the construction of intersubjective meaning among evidential perception verbs of sight and sound in English and German (with most attention being given to written rather than spoken data). Whereas the first-person singular pronoun only signifies that the evidence rests solely with the speaker/writer, the first-person plural pronoun allows a much wider range of intersubjective meanings concerning the nature of the evidence. It is also shown how English and German perception verbs express intersubjective evidential meaning in a number of different complementation patterns, how the type of this meaning is often linked to these patterns, and how the use of the first-person plural pronoun can vary among and within these constructions. The possibility of a diachronic development in this domain is also given some attention, hence data are drawn from the Early Modern and Modern periods of these two languages.


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