complements of perception verbs

Andrew Koontz-Garboden andrewkg at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Fri Aug 25 14:13:04 UTC 2006

Hi.  Are these verb chaining constructions by chance?

Ulwa (Misumalpan; Nicaragua) has exactly this kind of phenomenon for
causative constructions, for which verb chaining is used.  I.e., the
cause is in the dependent clause (with different subject switch
reference marking) while the affect is main clause, the reverse of
what's typically found, as I understand it.

Bill laih aa-tak                         yawadam.
bill topic cause-3sing.diff.subj   leave-2sing.past
`Bill made you leave.'

In the kinds of constructions you're talking about, though, the
perception verbs is indeed the main clause verb (although the same
verb chaining construction would typically be used).

Muih        yul-dak                   dak-ikda.
people     say-3pl.dif.subj.       hear-1sing.past
`I've heard people say...'

Still, it might be useful to look at the Ulwa causative construction.
Some of the main facts are well-described by Ken Hale in the following
two papers.

  author = {Hale, Kenneth L.},
  title = {Misumalpan Verb Sequencing Constructions},
  booktitle = {Serial Verbs: Grammatical, Comparative, and Cognitive
   pages = {1-35},
  publisher = {John Benjamins},
  year = {1991},
  editor = {Claire Lefebvre},
   address = {Amsterdam},

  author = {Hale, Kenneth L.},
  title = {The Misumalpan Causative Construction},
  booktitle = {Essays on Language Function and Language Type},
  pages = {199-216},
  publisher = {John Benjamins},
  year = {1997},
  editor = {Bybee, Joan and Haiman, John and Thompson, Sandra A.},
   address = {Amsterdam},


Andrew Koontz-Garboden
Department of Linguistics
Margaret Jacks Hall, Bldg. 460
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-2150

andrewkg at

On 8/25/06, Claudia Wegener <wegener at> wrote:
> Dear all,
> In the language I'm working on (Savosavo, Papuan, Solomon Islands), the
> complex clause used to talk about perceiving an event consists of an
> independent (main) clause encoding the percept (i.e. the event that is
> perceived), and a dependent clause encoding the 'act of perception'.
> Judging from the literature I've read so far (grammars as well as
> typological literature), this seems to be a bit unusual - the percept
> seems to be usually encoded in the dependent clause (as in English "I
> saw that he left").
> I'd be grateful
> 1. if any of you'd know of other languages that put perception verbs
> such as 'see' and 'hear' in a dependent clause, and the percept in the
> main clause, or
> 2. if you could point me to any typological or theoretical literature
> mentioning this that I might have missed!
> Thanks in advance,
> Claudia Wegener
> --
> Claudia Wegener
> Insitut für Sprachwissenschaft
> Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
> Merangasse 70
> 8010 Graz
> Austria
> Tel.: +43-316-380-2423
> Fax: +43-316-380-9780
> Email: wegener at

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