Evaluative Adjectives – an Attempt at a Classification


In my paper, I propose a certain classification of evaluative expressions. I hypothesize that the basic criterion to distinguish between evaluative and descriptive terms is the faultless disagreement test. Next, I discuss a few kinds of phenomena which seem to render this distinction dubious: context–sensitivity, vagueness and using descriptive terms to express evaluative judgments. Further, I investigate Ch. Kennedy’s proposal (2016) according to which gradable adjectives can express two kinds of subjectivity (one being generated by vagueness and one stemming from evaluativity). I modify this account by postulating another sub-class of subjective adjectives (“experiential adjectives”) which are not subjective due to vagueness and which are not evaluative either as they do not necessarily encode any valence. I propose a linguistic test to identify these expressions. Finally, I check where my classification of adjectives places the predicate of personal taste “tasty”. I suggest that “tasty” is both evaluative and experiential and additionally, it carries a condition of its own use, that is the information that can be used to positively assess the taste of something. This, I argue, makes it similar to thin evaluative terms as it carries no descriptive component at all.

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