On 26 March at 14:15 Mariann Proos will defend her doctoral thesis “Meaning and usage of Estonian experience perception verbs” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in general linguistics).
Assoc. Prof. Jane Klavan, University of Tartu
Assoc. Prof. Ilona Tragel, University of Tartu
Dr. Laura Speed, Radboud University (The Netherlands)
The way we experience the world that surrounds us every day is inevitably tied to our sensory capabilities. The way we talk about perception experiences and the way we conceptualise them is, however, more dependent on the culture we live in and the language we use. One specific means of expressing perception experiences is perception verbs like to see or to hear in English. This dissertation looks at five Estonian perception verbs: nägema ‘to see’, kuulma ‘to hear’, tundma ‘to feel’, maitset tundma ‘to taste’ and lõhna tundma ‘to smell’. Perception verbs tend to have many, related meanings in world’s languages, both physical and abstract. For example, in English, one can see a cat in the street but one can also see a problem – the former is a physical use of the verb to see, while the latter is an abstract usage. One of the main goals of this dissertation is to look at the different meanings Estonian perception verbs have, and how they are used in the context of world’s languages. To reach this goal, a combination of both experimental and corpus-based methods is used. The results confirm both universal and language-specific trends of perception verb meanings. It has been previously shown that there seems to be a universal link between perception and cognition in that perception verbs are often used to express other experiences tied to understanding or knowing. However, which types of cognition is expressed through which perception verb can be very different across languages. For example, Estonian uses the tactile perception verb tundma ‘to feel’ to express thorough knowledge of something or someone – this pattern is cross-linguistically uncommon, and is observed only for some languages in the Circum-Baltic area. On the other hand, results show that Estonian falls in line with other Western languages: verbs of tasting and smelling only have a few different meanings, reflecting the low importance of these senses in Western culture.
The defence will be held in Zoom.