Publication details [#59567]

Viberg, Åke. 2015. Sensation, perception and cognition: Swedish in a typological-contrastive perspective. Functions of Language 22 (1) : 96–131.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This paper presents an analysis of the field of perception verbs in Swedish within a typological and contrastive framework. Earlier work has to a great extent focused on the concepts see and hear. This article focuses on the more ‘raw’ form of perception represented by sensations and on the combination of meanings referring to perception and cognition in Swedish känna ‘feel, know’. The polysemy of känna turns out to be very language-specific even in relation to the most closely related Germanic languages. The polysemy of känna is interesting also because this verb can refer to internal (bodily) perception and has an extension that covers blended spaces combining cognitive elements with emotional and bodily feelings (cf. feel remorse, feel convinced). Special attention is paid also to sensory verbs describing sensations of light and sound (cf. English glitter, glimmer, rattle, creak, etc.) and of bodily sensations and pain (cf. ache, itch, etc.) Sensations are interesting because — similar to sensory adjectives — evaluation and intensity are central components of their meaning in addition to the fine-grained description of sensory qualia. There are great differences across languages in the degree of elaboration of sensory verbs referring to sensations. Recent typological work has demonstrated great elaborations of taste verbs in some languages, whereas other languages have elaborated odor verbs. Swedish (similar to many other European languages) has a rich repertoire of sound verbs.