Seeing and Knowing: A Study of verbs of Perception in Japanese, Korean, and English*

Yong-Yae Park (Department of Applied Linguistics UCLA)
Susan Strauss (Department of Applied Linguistics UCLA)

This study represents the initial stages of our research on the semantic scope of the verbs related to visual perception in Korean, Japanese, and English. Our departure point in the study primarily included Korean pota Japanese miru, and English look, see, and watch. Our initial results will show to what extent Japanese miru can be a counterpart of Korean pota and how each lexical verb in Japanese and Korean patterns against the three seemingly similar verbs of perception in English. By using a veriety of spontaneous spoken data (i.e., Pear Story Narratives and personal narratives for each language)we have also attempted to demonstrate how the concept of seeing approaches the concept of knowing by illustrating some of the most striking similarities and differences between these five verbs as they occur as lexical verbs in the three languages. We conclude by comparing and contrasting the use of these verbs in auxiliary constructions, i.e., -te miru in Japanese and -a/e pota in Korean. In addition to some surface similarities in the structure and function of these auxiliary constructions, we have discovered some significant differences. We maintain that these crucial differences are due primarily to the semantic scope of each verb as a lexical verb, or more specifically, how closely the notion of 'seeing' actually approaches the notion of 'knowing'.