Synthese:1-20 (forthcoming)

Bianca Cepollaro
Institut Jean Nicod
Filippo Domaneschi
Universität Konstanz
Isidora Stojanovic
Institut Jean Nicod
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.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-020-02633-z
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