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PERSPECTIVE Report Summary

Project ID: 338421
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Mid-Term Report Summary - PERSPECTIVE (Unraveling the Language of Perspective)

We always take in a certain perspective since we are located in a specific place and see the world through our own eyes. Small wonder, therefore, that perspective is crucial to the interpretation of language, too. Languages are equipped with a wide variety of linguistic means that involve perspective. Think of words like 'I' and 'you', 'today' and 'yesterday', 'come' and 'go', but also more subtle ones like expressives ('that bastard') and attitudinal particles (German 'doch', 'wohl'). It is these expressions that anchor utterances to their contexts. While perspectival elements are most of the time used from the perspective of the speaker, they can also be used from the perspective of someone else, a possibility that is fully exploited in narratives.

The central aim of the project Unraveling the Language of Perspective is to deepen our understanding of perspective shifts. We focus on attitudinal particles, evaluative expressions, reportative mood marking (subjunctive/optative), and temporal expressions such as tense and aspect. We have a special interest in Ancient Greek, a language with a particularly rich perspective system.

At this point the project has made progress on analyzing the relation between different forms of perspective shift (e.g. ones involved in historical present versus Free Indirect Discourse), the pragmatic (rather than semantic) nature of perspective-sensitivity in the case of evaluative expressions, and the fundamental differences between eventive and evidential speech reports, to mention a few.

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