Demonstrative pejoratives

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Cross-linguistically an affinity to pejoration has been repeatedly observed for demonstrative reference to human beings. Concentrating on German demonstratives I propose to conceive the pejoration effect here as an interplay of semantic and pragmatic factors. These factors are (i) core demonstrative meaning of directing attention to referents physically or mentally accessible to both the speaker and the hearer, (ii) an expressive meaning component (in the sense of Potts 2007) of the speaker’s claim of cognitive proximity between him and the hearer, as well as (iii) general pragmatic politeness principles. In this context a pragmatic analysis of pejoration crucially involving speakers and their intentions as well as relations between speakers and hearers is argued for.


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