Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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or have been argued to voice the speaker’s attitude towards the referent of the noun with which they co-occur, even though the attitude may be felt to be expressed about the referent of another sentential constituent or the state of affairs alluded to in the sentence where they are inserted. A previous pragmatic approach suggests that this is possible because these expletives perform an individual speech act, while a syntactic approach posits a feature whose detachment from a particular constituent enables the speaker’s attitude to target the referent of another sentential constituent or even on the entire proposition expressed. This paper proposes an alternative relevance-theoretic account of the interpretation of utterances containing expressive expletives, which considers pragmatic factors and the cognitive processes in comprehension. It is grounded in contributions on the output of lexical pragmatic processes and the role of paralinguistic clues in utterance comprehension.


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