Meeting ID: 814 2069 6374
Diana Mazzarella (U de Neuchâtel)
The interpretation of negated antonyms: adjectival polarity and face-management
Much literature in linguistics supports the observation that the interpretation of negated positive polarity antonyms (‘You are not kind’) is more likely to be strengthened (You are mean) than the interpretation of negated negative polarity antonyms (‘You are not mean’ to convey You are kind). This polarity asymmetry is often explained as originating from face-management considerations (see, e.g., Brown & Levinson, 1987; Horn 1989). As the predication of a negative polarity antonym (‘You are mean’) is face-threatening in most contexts, the negation of the corresponding positive polarity antonym (‘You are not kind’) is more likely to be interpreted as an indirect strategy to minimize face threat while getting the message across (You are mean). In this talk, I will present a series of studies that investigate the role of social context in the interpretation of negated antonyms and test some predictions of the face-management explanation of the polarity asymmetry.