verbs of cognition/perception

JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
These sentences are shown as a corresponding active-passive pair in a grammar book.
(1) He felt his feet to be stone-cold. [active]
(2) His feet were felt to be stone-cold. [passive]

According to the book, the verb "feel" here is called a "verb of cognition" as opposed to a "verb of perception".

Here's another example of the former shown in the book:
(3) They saw this to be true. [active]
(4) This is seen to be true. [passive]

I do understand the "see" in the latter pair to be a verb of cognition as opposed to a verb of perception. But somehow I don't understand the "feel" in the former pair to be a verb of cognition.

If I had to determine whether the "feel" in (1) and (2) denoted cognition or perception, I'd go with the latter. Am I missing something here?
 
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Sorry, no. That sense of "feel" implies making a judgment or recognizing a belief. If somebody blindfolded in a cave sticks out his hand, we don't say "He felt the wall to be rough," but rather "He could feel that the wall was rough" (the perceptive sense of feel). But we might say "He felt that his situation was perilous" (cognitive sense of feel).
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    That sense of "feel" implies making a judgment or recognizing a belief. If somebody blindfolded in a cave sticks out his hand, we don't say "He felt the wall to be rough," but rather "He could feel that the wall was rough" (the perceptive sense of feel). But we might say "He felt that his situation was perilous" (cognitive sense of feel).
    That's interesting and confusing at the same time. :confused:
    Let me ask you this way. If you perceive the coldness of your own feet through your senses, how does that "implies making a judgment or recognizing a belief"?

    If indeed that "implies making a judgment or recognizing a belief", (1) should be equivalent in meaning to this:
    He thought his feet to be stone-cold.:eek:
    But is it?

    Also, in your own example, let's imagine that that blindfolded person perceived the coldness of the wall of the cave through his hands when he touched it. Now, can you say this?
    He felt the wall to be cold.

    If not, in what respect is this sentence different from (1)?
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    The wall felt rough (to him).
    His feet felt cold to him.

    The passive is hard to use in many of the sentences posted.

    You CAN say:

    He found the wall to be cold.

    (If your question is about the "to be" form.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    You CAN say:

    He found the wall to be cold.

    (If your question is about the "to be" form.
    Somehow, I find your example to be natural. (No pun intended.)
    Now what do you think about (1)? Do you agree with (1) being interpreted the way the book explains?
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Somehow, I find your example to be natural. (No pun intended.)
    Now what do you think about (1)? Do you agree with (1) being interpreted the way the book explains?
    He felt his feet to be stone-cold. [active]

    It is definitely active voice but it implies he is feeling his feet with his hand. The "to be" has been discussed. (Doesn't work there.) I think you can say "I feel it to be a bad idea." (cognitive) But it is usually something I avoid.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    He felt his feet to be stone-cold. [active]

    It is definitely active voice but it implies he is feeling his feet with his hand.
    Why does it imply that he's feeling it with his hand?
    If he felt his own feet, which I think is the case in (1), he can feel his own feet without touching it with his hand. So, is there any reason that you think he's using his own hand to feel his own feet here?

    The "to be" has been discussed. (Doesn't work there.)
    I don't understand what exactly you're referring to here. Where has the "to be" been discussed? Somewhere in this forum, you mean? Also, what do you mean 'Doesn't work there'?
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Why does it imply that he's feeling it with his hand?
    If he felt his own feet, which I think is the case in (1), he can feel his own feet without touching it with his hand. So, is there any reason that you think he's using his own hand to feel his own feet here?

    I don't understand what exactly you're referring to here. Where has the "to be" been discussed? Somewhere in this forum, you mean? Also, what do you mean 'Doesn't work there'?
    Sorry! :) I was thinking of GF's post #2. He rewrote the sentence taking the "to be" out but there is otherwise no discussion. Good catch.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    It's a really bad example of cognition but that is the grammatical form. I think it's "cognition about perception" if that isn't too confusing. If you said: "He felt his feet to be in need of better shoes", that would be cognition.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    It's a really bad example of cognition but that is the grammatical form. I think it's "cognition about perception" if that isn't too confusing. If you said: "He felt his feet to be in need of better shoes", that would be cognition.
    I'm not the only one who thinks there's something weird about (1). Good to know. :D

    Now, if you intended a verb of perception in (1) (not a verb of cognition or a verb of "cognition about perception" or the other way around), do you find (1) to be ungrammatical?

    Also, in that scenario, would any of the following work?
    (1') He felt his feet be stone-cold.
    (1'') He felt his feet being stone-cold.
    (1''') He felt his feet stone-cold.
     
    What we don't know is what is supposed to be the difference in "verb of cognition" as opposed to a "verb of perception"???

    As far as I can see, the passives are formed the same way and are valid as such.

    I know X. X is known by me. [cognition]
    I see X. X is seen by me. [perception]


    ===

    The verb 'feel' has several senses and I think those are getting confused. I have not heard any issue stated
    which depends on cognition as opposed to perception. (Some senses of 'feel' may be more one than the other, but what difference
    is this supposed to make?)
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    What we don't know is what is supposed to be the difference in "verb of cognition" as opposed to a "verb of perception"???

    As far as I can see, the passives are formed the same way and are valid as such.

    I know X. X is known by me. [cognition]
    I see X. X is seen by me. [perception]


    ===

    The verb 'feel' has several senses and I think those are getting confused. I have not heard any issue stated
    which depends on cognition as opposed to perception. (Some senses of 'feel' may be more one than the other, but what difference
    is this supposed to make?)
    According to the book, the difference between cognition and perception is as follows.
    (And in order not to get confused by the meaning of 'feel', let's use the 'see' examples here.)
    (3) They saw this to be true. [active]
    (4) This is seen to be true. [passive]

    What the book says, I think, is that the verb 'see' in (3) and (4) is a verb of cognition. Therefore, the active version, (3), originally has the to-infinitive ("to be").

    If, on the other hand, the same verb 'see' is a verb of perception, you would not use this to-infinitive in the active even though its passive counterpart must have a to-infinitive:
    They saw him enter the building. :tick:
    They saw him to enter the building.:cross:
    He was seen enter the building.:cross:
    He was seen to enter the building.:tick:

    Therefore, I think that the validity of (1) hinges on whether the verb "feel" is actually a verb of cognition. The book says it is, and I think that it's more of a verb of perception.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    What we don't know is what is supposed to be the difference in "verb of cognition" as opposed to a "verb of perception"???

    As far as I can see, the passives are formed the same way and are valid as such.

    I know X. X is known by me. [cognition]
    I see X. X is seen by me. [perception]


    ===

    The verb 'feel' has several senses and I think those are getting confused. I have not heard any issue stated
    which depends on cognition as opposed to perception. (Some senses of 'feel' may be more one than the other, but what difference
    is this supposed to make?)
    Did somebody say we "don't know what is supposed to be the difference"? One of JungKim's questions has to do with sentence 1 in post #1 which has dubiously been termed "cognition".

    The passive/active is not really contingent on the cognition/perception issue, or vice versa. There are a lot of issues going on though.
     
    Jung Kim,
    If there is such a difference re infinitives following, you [JK] should give examples with clear cognitive, or on the other hand, perceptive verbs.
    The issue is murky here with 'see'--same as with 'feel'-- because you picked a verb with several senses.
    Cognitive: I know X to be true, or I know that X is true. ---Passives: X is known to be true by me. or That X is true is known by me.

    Perceptive: I observed the sunset; I observed him entering his home; (I observed that he entered his home.)
    ---Passives: The sunset was observed by me. Him entering his home was observed by me. (That he entered his home was observed by me.)

    I'm not sure what your thesis is. As some posters have said, the issue seems to be about verbs involving judgments which are included in clauses [clause is the direct object) within sentences.

    Other verbs take noun-ish ing-forms after (as direct objects), which are not self-standing clauses.
     
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    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Jung Kim,
    If there is such a difference re infinitives following, you [JK] should give examples with clear cognitive, or on the other hand, perceptive verbs.
    The issue is murky here with 'see'--same as with 'feel'-- because you picked a verb with several senses.
    Cognitive: I know X to be true, or I know that X is true. ---Passives: X is known to be true by me. or That X is true is known by me.

    Perceptive: I observed the sunset; I observed him entering his home; (I observed that he entered his home.)
    ---Passives: The sunset was observed by me. Him entering his home was observed by me. (That he entered his home was observed by me.)
    I think that the determination of cognition or perception depends on the individual usage in context rather than on the kinds of verbs. True, 'know' and 'observe' are the kinds of verbs denoting cognition and perception, respectively, regardless of context. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the issue gets "murky" whenever we have other kinds of verbs capable of denoting both cognition and perception depending on their usage.

    For example, the verb 'see' in the earlier sentences, (3) and (4), can never be interpreted as denoting perception, can it? So, I don't think that it's murky at all. And no one can doubt that the to-infinitive in (3) is justified. So, I guess I'm asking why you think that (3) is not an example with "clear cognitive verb."[/QUOTE]
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    JungKim, can you explain precisely what question it is that you're asking?

    You say that in He felt his feet to be stone-cold "felt" has to be a verb of cognition because
    - it's followed by the to-infinitive
    - if it were a verb of perception it couldn't be followed by the to-infinitive.

    And yet you say that you find it hard to view "felt" as a verb of cognition in that sentence.

    :confused:

    ------------
    (By the way, you haven't told us the name of the grammar book;).)
     
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    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    JungKim, can you explain precisely what question it is that you're asking?

    You say that in He felt his feet to be stone-cold "felt" has to be a verb of cognition because
    - it's followed by the to-infinitive
    - if it were a verb of perception it couldn't be followed by the to-infinitive.
    Loob, my question is what I have asked in the OP. What you say I say, I think, is not really reflective of the OP's question.

    And yet you say that you find it hard to view "felt" as a verb of cognition in that sentence.
    :confused:
    Yes, I find it hard to view the "felt" as a verb of cognition. And that's me talking about the semantics of (1).
    Perhaps the heart of the matter is my suspicion that the syntax of (1) is not in agreement with its semantics.

    ------------
    (By the way, you haven't told us the name of the grammar book;).)
    That's intentional. Sorry. But I don't think that the name is necessary for the discussion.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    So your question is:
    Is He felt his feet to be stone-cold a well-formed sentence?​

    Is that right?

    --------

    Added
    If that is the question, then I agree with you and RedwoodGrove: I find it a decidedly dubious example of cognitive feel.
     
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    Jung Kim, it seems to me that the issue should be framed, "What usually follows, can follow the verb". If it's "I judged him to be a good person", that's one type of case, an infinitive clause; "I observed him entering his house at 6 pm" is an ing form as noun phrase.
    THEN you can ask, "How are passives formed?" To get into "is the verb one of cognition?" seems a waste of time; of no particular use.
    It is true that "Him entering the house was observed by me" is rather awkward; He--entering the house--was observed by me is perhaps better. Note that the issue is around the ing-form.

    In the simple case of 'observe' 'I observed him'. This goes to. 'He was observed by me.'
    ERGO, there is no problem with "verb type", there is a problem with ing form (following the verb), in making the passive.

    To sum up: In other words, Jung, with a verb that can take an 'ing form' in its object, the passive will be hard to form or awkward. "I object to his always being late." To worry about the 'category' of 'object to' seems like an unnecessary detour. Just look at the object and ing form and you will see that a problem is there. "His always being late was objected to by me" :confused:


    Hence, to form a passive, we would re phrase. "His entrance to the house was observed by me."
     
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    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    FYI, the examples in the OP were taken from a book titled "Understanding Modern English Grammar", which is written by a professor in Korea. He's not a native speaker of English, but they say that he got his PhD in linguistics in the U.S. The book is written in Korean for Koreans. The book is published in 2014 and reflects head-driven phrase structure grammar (HPSG).

    Most importantly, he claims that all the examples in the book are taken from various authentic English texts produced by educated native speakers, although I couldn't locate (1) or (2) or any variant thereof in Google.
     
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    I'm just trying to give some practical suggestions, Jung Kim. The way linguistics persons slice up the salami is another matter.

    And as you can see, the native speakers here, fairly well informed, were not happy with sentences 1) and esp. 2) of the OP. That is why you had trouble Googling for similars.


    FYI, the examples in the OP were taken from a book titled "Understanding Modern English Grammar", which is written by a professor in Korea. He's not a native speaker of English, but they say that he got his PhD in linguistics in the U.S. The book is written in Korean for Koreans. The book is published in 2014 and reflects head-driven phrase structure grammar (HPSG).

    Most importantly, he claims that all the examples in the book are taken from various authentic English texts produced by educated native speakers, although I couldn't locate (1) or (2) or any variant thereof in Google.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Somehow I got sidetracked and lost sight of my own question set forth in post #13:
    Let me restate the question here:

    If the verb 'feel' were to be used as a verb of perception, would any of the following work? And how natural would these be?
    (1') He felt his feet be stone-cold.
    (1'') He felt his feet being stone-cold.
    (1''') He felt his feet stone-cold.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    None of those is natural, I'm afraid: we'd say His feet felt stone-cold.

    You could use the bare infinitive/ING-form with a verb indicating that something was happening:
    He felt his feet become stone-cold
    He felt his feet becoming stone-cold.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Might I just observe that a sentence about cold feet is not a good choice for a discussion on using "feel" as a verb of cognition? It doesn't matter whether you feel your feet with the sensory nerve endings in the skin of your hand, or feel your feet with the sensory nerve endings in the skin of your feet; both involve perception. It also doesn't matter if the feet are cold or are becoming cold. It's still perception.

    I could accept "His feet were felt to be stone-cold" as an example of cognition, but it's such a wholly bizarre sentence conceptually that it's no more than an unrealistic exercise in grammar - a game. It requires others to decide that his feet are stone-cold, without actually touching them to see if it is so.

    Turning to "He felt his feet to be stone-cold.", for that to make any sense as an example of "feel" being used as a verb of cognition we would have to have a person who had completely lost the ability to detect hot and cold, but who could tell he was in a cold environment and thus deduce that his feet were cold.

    In my view, the Korean professor has chosen a particularly bad pair of sentences to illustrate his point. They do illustrate cognition, but are wholly implausible as real-life sentences. I'm not surprised that JungKim has had problems with them.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Might I just observe that a sentence about cold feet is not a good choice for a discussion on using "feel" as a verb of cognition?
    Yes, you might, Andy. :D
    Not simply because your observation is exactly the same as mine but because it makes a whole lot of sense. :thumbsup:
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I'm sorry if I seem to be asking a stupid question here, but why does it matter whether a verb is one of perception or cognition? Is there some rule about grammatical consequences of the answer?
     

    Albatrosspro

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Sounds like a neurological and philosophical question as much as a language one. :thumbsdown:

    I'm sorry if I seem to be asking a stupid question here, but why does it matter whether a verb is one of perception or cognition? Is there some rule about grammatical consequences of the answer?
    This is exactly what I was going to say. Is there a grammatical dependence on cognition/perception that is automatic for native speakers? Otherwise it seems like an excuse for a test.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Whether "feel" is being used as a verb of perception or cognition definitely has consequences for the grammar.

    For example, the structure He felt her answer to be inadequate only works if "felt" is being used as a verb of cognition: he felt = (approximately) he considered.

    That's what's odd about the Korean professor's example (1): the structure says that the verb is being used as a cognitive verb, but the meaning can only have to do with feeling through the senses rather than concluding. JungKim puts it neatly in post 20:
    ... the syntax of (1) is not in agreement with its semantics.
     
    Yes, good points. What I was saying, though, is that it's futile to ask "is it being used as a verb of perception or cognition?" We have no access to independent evidence, none about the 'state of the world'; we can't ask the speaker. Hence we must work from the grammar, syntax, common usage patterns exhibited IN, i.e. WITHIN the sentence*. That's the only evidence we have. That evidence is that something sensory is being talked about. End of story; it ["feel"] is, here, a verb about sensing.

    Note further, that we *cannot* say, "Because it's a verb about sensing, the grammar, syntax, and usage are proper and correct." That would be to reason in a circle.

    *The sentence in the OP is

    JK: (1) He felt his feet to be stone-cold.

    Benny: The fact that the sentence is at least a bit awkward, if not clumsily constructed (whether by a native speaker or a nonnative one) makes the problem of inferring [the sense of 'feel'] from syntax, etc. a trickier, perhaps impossible one.



    Whether "feel" is being used as a verb of perception or cognition definitely has consequences for the grammar.

    For example, the structure He felt her answer to be inadequate only works if "felt" is being used as a verb of cognition: he felt = (approximately) he considered.

    That's what's odd about the Korean professor's example (1): the structure says that the verb is being used as a cognitive verb, but the meaning can only have to do with feeling through the senses rather than concluding. JungKim puts it neatly in post 20:
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm not sure I've understood your point, benny.

    The problem with example (1) arises because
    - the syntax is that of cognitive "feel": He felt his feet to be stone-cold. = (approximately) He considered his feet to be stone-cold.
    - and yet cognitive "feel" makes no sense:(
     
    Yes, I see. No hypothesis is without some evidence that's not in accord.

    I think the speaker is trying to say, "He sensed his feet as (being) cold." The infinitive [of the OP version] is clumsy.

    Maybe the speaker is trying to say, "He judged his feet to be stone cold." The use of 'feel' [in the OP version] is clumsy. For that to work, one would have to make an effort.
    "He was asked, definitively, to say if his feet were cold. He replied that he felt his feet to be cold."

    The procedure I recommended, looking within the sentence, is going to be dicey if the sentence is poorly constructed and lacking other sentences nearby.

    I'm not sure I've understood your point, benny.

    The problem with example (1) arises because
    - the syntax is that of cognitive "feel": He felt his feet to be stone-cold. = (approximately) He considered his feet to be stone-cold.
    - and yet cognitive "feel" makes no sense:(
     

    Albatrosspro

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    My first thought on reading the first two sentences is that they are representative of fiction, where they are not necessarily clumsy but perhaps used for stylistic effect. In the context of a grammar book, they are certainly odd (1) because of the ambiguity of cognizing/sensing temperature and (2) one expects plain, no-nonsense examples. But it's always worth pointing out when a change of context can affect the reception of writing.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Whether "feel" is being used as a verb of perception or cognition definitely has consequences for the grammar.
    For example, the structure He felt her answer to be inadequate only works if "felt" is being used as a verb of cognition: he felt = (approximately) he considered.
    Ah, understood. Good explanation, thanks.
     
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