When is it ok to call someone a jerk? An experimental investigation of expressives

Synthese 198 (10):9273-9292 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


We present two experimental studies on the Italian expressive ‘stronzo’. The first study tests whether, and to which extent, the acceptability of using an expressive is sensitive to the information available in the context. The study looks both at referential uses of expressives and predicative uses of expressives. The results show that expressives are sensitive to contextual information to a much higher degree than the non-expressive control items in their referential use, but also, albeit to a lesser degree, in their predicative use. The second study tests whether the lower acceptability of expressives in their predicative use may be simply due to saying something negative about someone. A comparison between expressives, such as ‘jerk’, and non-expressive negative terms, such as ‘nasty’ or ‘unbearable’, suggests that it is the expressive nature of these terms, rather than the mere negative valence, that affects acceptability. Our studies present a major challenge to the existing accounts of expressives, and raise several theoretical issues that still call for an answer.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,346

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The expressive dimension.Christopher Potts - 2007 - Theoretical Linguistics 33 (2):165-198.
Expressives, Majoratives, and Ineffability.Carl David Mildenberger - 2017 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 31 (2):1-16.
Expressive presuppositions.Philippe Schlenker - 2007 - Theoretical Linguistics 33:237–245.
C. I. Lewis and the similetic use of language.A. L. Herman - 1973 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 33 (3):349-365.
An utterance situation-based comparison.Osamu Sawada - 2014 - Linguistics and Philosophy 37 (3):205-248.
Directives, expressives, and motivation.Toru Suzuki - 2017 - Theoretical Economics 12:175–210.
Expressives, perspective and presupposition.Peter Lasersohn - 2007 - Theoretical Linguistics 33 (2):223-230.
Expressives, descriptives, performatives.A. I. Melden - 1969 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 29 (4):498-505.


Added to PP

25 (#465,705)

6 months
5 (#154,483)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Bianca Cepollaro
Institut Jean Nicod
Filippo Domaneschi
Universität Konstanz
Isidora Stojanovic
Institut Jean Nicod

Citations of this work

Framing the Epistemic Schism of Statistical Mechanics.Javier Anta - 2021 - Proceedings of the X Conference of the Spanish Society of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Scorekeeping in a language game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.
Common ground.Robert Stalnaker - 2002 - Linguistics and Philosophy 25 (5-6):701-721.
The Social Life of Slurs.Geoffrey Nunberg - 2018 - In Daniel Fogal, Daniel Harris & Matt Moss (eds.), New Work on Speech Acts. Oxford University Press.
Scorekeeping in a Language Game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (3):339.

View all 33 references / Add more references