Pragmatic Apparatus – On The Interpretation Of Expressive Adjectives: Pragmatics or syntax?

Cited by Lee Sonogan

A Study of Adjective Types and Functions in Popular Science Articles |  Semantic Scholar

Abstract by Fabian Bross

It has been observed that sentences containing expressive adjectives modifying a DP can have different readings. In one reading it is the DP referent that is negatively evaluated (called “local interpretation”), while in another reading it is a different DP referent that is evaluated (called “argument hopping”), and in yet another reading it is the whole situation described in the sentence that is being evaluated (called “sentence-level interpretation”). There are two opposing views on how to capture this ambiguity: pragmatic accounts arguing that the interpretation is governed by contextual factors (via inference) and a recent syntactic account (using an upward-looking version of Agree) arguing that expressive adjectives are scope-taking elements. The goal of the present paper is to clearly identify the different predictions and testing environments necessary to decide which account is more suitable to capture the data. While the results of an experiment designed to test these predictions show a lot of variation, they also suggest that the syntactic constraints proposed by the syntactic account are not responsible for the interpretation of expressive adjectives.

Publication: Glossa a jounal of generlingustics (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

Pub Date: 2021 Doi:

Keywords: expressivity, expressive adjectives, scope, pragmatics, syntax (Plenty more sections and references in this research article)

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