19.1847, Qs: Expressing 'Knowing How' Across Languages

Wed Jun 11 02:02:35 UTC 2008

LINGUIST List: Vol-19-1847. Tue Jun 10 2008. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 19.1847, Qs: Expressing 'Knowing How' Across Languages

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Date: 09-Jun-2008
From: Jason Stanley < jasoncs at rci.rutgers.edu >
Subject: Expressing 'Knowing How' Across Languages


-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2008 22:00:28
From: Jason Stanley [jasoncs at rci.rutgers.edu]
Subject: Expressing 'Knowing How' Across Languages
E-mail this message to a friend:

I am currently working on embedded question constructions, specifically
ones involving ''how'' plus infinitive, as in:

(1) John knows how to ride a bicycle.
(2) John knows how to swim.
(3) John knows how to cook risotto.

In English, these constructions involve explicit use of the question word
''how'', an infinitive, and the propositional knowledge verb 'know' that
occurs with straight declarative complements, as in (4):

(4) John knows that Barack is the nominee.

In certain languages, such as French, it is much more natural to express
what a sentence like (2) expresses with just a bare infinitive, as in:

(5) John sait nager.

Some languages allow for both the explicit embedded question syntax, as in
English, as well as the bare infinitive construction, such as (5).

I have several questions. First, I would like to know about other languages
that are English-like, in that the preferred natural way to express (1)-(3)
is with the propositional knowledge verb 'know', together with the question
word ''how'', and the infinitive (obviously, this won't be languages that
disallow infinitives in embedded questions, like German). Please provide
examples if you can. Secondly, I'd like to know about languages that allow,
in translating (1)-(3), the explicit question embedding syntax (like
English), and also allow the bare infinitive. 

I will post the results. Thanks! 

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

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