ABSTRACT. Expressives are lexical items which encode attitudes. Original semantic theories for expressives assumed that this attitude was always the speaker’s, however, a number of apparent counter-examples have motived recent theorists to endorse the view that expressives can be shifted to non-speaker-oriented readings under which they express attitudes of a salient judge, distinct from the speaker. We argue that this rejection of speaker dependence for expressives is too hasty, arguing that: (1) the counter-examples are unconvincing, and (2) reflection on other puzzling uses of expressives that we introduce here suggest that speaker dependence ought to be preserved as a universal semantic feature of expressive content. Apparent cases of perspective shifting, we argue, are best understood as resulting from pragmatic, rather than semantic, operations.

Keywords: expressive content; speaker dependence; pragmatic operation

How to cite: Stevens, Graham, and Nathan Duckett (2019). “Expressive Content and Speaker-Dependence,” Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 18: 97–112.

Received 5 July 2017 • Received in revised form 16 July 2018
Accepted 17 July 2018 • Available online 10 August 2018


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Philosophy/School of Social Sciences,
The University of Manchester, UK
(corresponding author)
Philosophy/School of Social Sciences,
The University of Manchester, UK

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