Emergent contexts

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In this contribution, I look at context from the view of idiomatic utterances. Thereby, I adopt the view that context is a dynamic construct actively created by discourse participants, where the utterance itself is an important contextual resource. Against this background, I develop the claim that idiomatic utterances have a certain potential to create or evoke specific contextual features. Theoretically, I argue that this potential cannot be explained within a purely semantic approach, but is to be situated at the semantics/pragmatics interface level. Empirically, I report on the results of an experiment in which participants had to rate the acceptability of contextualized utterances of the idiom to <i>throw in the towel</i>. Contexts which were compatible with the assumed specific features of the idiom scored significantly better than contexts which were not.


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