The Social Meaning of Semantic Properties

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2021
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Staum Casasanto, Laura
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HALL-LEW, Lauren, ed., Emma MOORE, ed., Robert J. PODESVA, ed.. Social Meaning and Linguistic Variation : Theorizing the Third Wave. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021, pp. 80-104. ISBN 978-1-108-47162-6. Available under: doi: 10.1017/9781108578684.004
Zusammenfassung

How do the semantic and pragmatic properties of a linguistic expression inform its social meaning(s)? We show that the intensifiers totally in American English and -issimo in Italian are perceived as more salient carriers of social meaning in context that require substantial pragmatic work to be interpreted; that is, when they occur in the absence of a gradable predicate (e.g., “totally click on a link”), as opposed to when they target a lexically supplied scale (e.g. “totally full””). We suggest that two factors make these semantic variants particularly apt to serve as social indexes. First, in both cases the semantics of the intensifiers fosters a heightened degree of epistemic and evaluative convergence between the speaker and the hearer, making these expressions particularly apt to perform identity work at the interactional level. Second, both uses of totally and -issimo are linguistically marked with respect to their lexical counterparts. As such, they emerge as suitable linguistic resources to be used for stylistic purposes, in a similar fashion to what has been observed for marked variants in the domain of phonological, morphosyntactic, and pragmatic variation (Bender 2000; Campbell-Kibler 2007, Podesva 2011; Acton and Potts 2014).

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400 Sprachwissenschaft, Linguistik
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social meaning, intensifiers, gradability, semantics, markedness
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ISO 690BELTRAMA, Andrea, Laura STAUM CASASANTO, 2021. The Social Meaning of Semantic Properties. In: HALL-LEW, Lauren, ed., Emma MOORE, ed., Robert J. PODESVA, ed.. Social Meaning and Linguistic Variation : Theorizing the Third Wave. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021, pp. 80-104. ISBN 978-1-108-47162-6. Available under: doi: 10.1017/9781108578684.004
BibTex
@incollection{Beltrama2021Socia-59475,
  year={2021},
  doi={10.1017/9781108578684.004},
  title={The Social Meaning of Semantic Properties},
  isbn={978-1-108-47162-6},
  publisher={Cambridge University Press},
  address={Cambridge},
  booktitle={Social Meaning and Linguistic Variation : Theorizing the Third Wave},
  pages={80--104},
  editor={Hall-Lew, Lauren and Moore, Emma and Podesva, Robert J.},
  author={Beltrama, Andrea and Staum Casasanto, Laura}
}
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