The construction of vagueness

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The aim of this contribution is to study the stages involved in the emergence of Romance (and some Germanic) approximators such as French <i>espèce de </i>or <i>genre de </i>based on taxonomic nouns such as French <i>genre </i>‘genus’ and <i>espèce </i>‘species’ and to demonstrate which implicatures trigger the emergence of the discursive function which consists in signalling loose talk. Particularly the first steps leading from taxonomic nouns to approximators are still unknown, while the emergence of further pragmatic functions such as mitigation, quotation or focus marking on the basis of approximative functions are relatively well-studied. Corpus data complemented by lexicographical data will help to reveal the implicatures arising and becoming entrenched in specific communicative tasks where expressions containing taxonomic nouns are used in order to achieve certain communicative goals related to loose meaning construction.


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