See/ seem, smell, look

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by ThomasK, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I am referring to this use of verbs:

    a. It looks good/ it looks like a bird.
    b. I look at something.

    I'd love to find the right terms to describe this phenomenon whereby the same verb can be used to refer to the 'sensorial act' (perception: I look) and the sensorial effect of things or people (it looks) [a] - or where the two verbs have at least the same root (like see/ seem).

    But the main question is: it seems quite common in West and North Germanic languages, esp. with 'sensory verbs', but is it a more general phenomenon (universal ???). And: is it somehow possible to decide on whether one is older than the other?
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    I don't understand the syntax of your sentence here, but are you suggesting that see and seem have the same root? Because that would not be correct.
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Oh, oh, mistake: wishful thinking is one of the traps I often fall into. Then this does not apply, I suppose. (And of course there was something wrong in my syntax because I changed it in the last minute. I have changed that in the meantime.Sorry !)

    I did find this about like (adj.) and to like (verb) [especially the latter seems relevant in this context]:

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  4. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I thought for a second that ergative verb could be a useful term here, but that is still different, it seems to me. We might perhaps say that the direct object in perception verbs is in the ergative case sometimes... can anyone refer to a site where this notion is explained (perhaps in connection with perception verbs) and illustrated? I think at least it shows a semantic link, and at least a similar one as between the verbs I meant.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013

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