This paper focuses on the debated question of the universality of 'know' as a concept available to speakers of all languages. On the view of Natural Semantic Metalanguage researchers, all languages have a lexical exponent for the concept expressed in English by the word know. Epistemologist Mizumoto (in press) has suggested that Japanese is a counter-example, because in this language two verbs, shiru and wakaru, are used in propositional knowledge attributions and neither is, he claims, exactly equivalent to know. Drawing on linguistic evidence from a corpus of Japanese and from Japanese contemporary literature, this paper shows that shim corresponds exactly in meaning to the English know and is the only Japanese exponent of the universal semantic prime KNOW. An NSM semantic explication of wakaru phrased in both English and Japanese is presented to show that wakaru is a complex concept which can be explicated via shiru, but not vice-versa.

Is KNOW a human universal? Shiru, wakaru and Japanese ethno-epistemology / G.M. Farese. - In: LANGUAGE SCIENCES. - ISSN 0388-0001. - 66(2018 Mar), pp. 135-150. [10.1016/j.langsci.2017.09.001]

Is KNOW a human universal? Shiru, wakaru and Japanese ethno-epistemology

G.M. Farese
2018-03

Abstract

This paper focuses on the debated question of the universality of 'know' as a concept available to speakers of all languages. On the view of Natural Semantic Metalanguage researchers, all languages have a lexical exponent for the concept expressed in English by the word know. Epistemologist Mizumoto (in press) has suggested that Japanese is a counter-example, because in this language two verbs, shiru and wakaru, are used in propositional knowledge attributions and neither is, he claims, exactly equivalent to know. Drawing on linguistic evidence from a corpus of Japanese and from Japanese contemporary literature, this paper shows that shim corresponds exactly in meaning to the English know and is the only Japanese exponent of the universal semantic prime KNOW. An NSM semantic explication of wakaru phrased in both English and Japanese is presented to show that wakaru is a complex concept which can be explicated via shiru, but not vice-versa.
Know; Ethno-epistemology; NSM semantics; Shiru; Wakaru;
Settore L-LIN/01 - Glottologia e Linguistica
Settore L-LIN/12 - Lingua e Traduzione - Lingua Inglese
Settore L-OR/22 - Lingue e Letterature del Giappone e della Corea
21-set-2017
Article (author)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/823184
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