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Predicates of Personal Taste and Multidimensional Adjectives: An Experimental Investigation
Elsi Kaiser and Jamie Herron Lee
224-231 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


We report a psycholinguistic experiment that explored the claim that two kinds of subjective adjectives—predicates of personal taste (PPTs, e.g., fun, tasty) and non-PPT multidimensional adjectives (e.g., smart, healthy)—involve different kinds of subjective perspective-taking. Whereas both classes of adjectives are commonly viewed as involving a judge/evaluator of some kind, it has been suggested that with PPTs, the judge is an experiencer, whereas the judges of merely multidimensional non-PPT adjectives are not required to have an experiential component. We tested this idea by manipulating verb argument structure in the preceding sentence, by using Experiencer-Theme verbs and Agent-Patient verbs. Our results show that PPTs, but not multidimensional non-PPT adjectives, are indeed sensitive to the presence of an experiencer thematic role in the preceding sentence, as signaled by participants' preference to choose the experiencer as the judge of the PPT. Thus, our findings provide some initial experimental support for the claim that a key property of PPTs—but not of regular multidimensional adjectives—is a preference for experiencer judges.

Published in

Proceedings of the 35th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Wm. G. Bennett, Lindsay Hracs, and Dennis Ryan Storoshenko
Table of contents
Printed edition: $395.00