Institut Jean Nicod

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Isidora Stojanovic works at the interface of philosophy of language, semantics and pragmatics. Her research has addressed four sets of issues: (1) How does language encode logical relations? Are functional, as opposed to lexical, categories, the bearers of logicality in natural language? (2) What is the best way to characterize the boundary between semantics and pragmatics? (3) Does first-personal discourse display any peculiar features? Are ‘de se’ attitudes special, and to which extent? (4) Are there dedicated linguistic constructions to express subjective evaluation? Is there a unified class of evaluative predicates, of which moral, aesthetic and taste predicates form subclasses? Stojanovic has defended a novel conception of our linguistic architecture, and has argued that the traditional binary distinction between semantics and pragmatics had better be replaced by a tripartite distinction that makes room for ‘prepragmatics’. She has showed that this novel conception explains better several important phenomena, such as demonstrative reference, quantifier domain restriction, or the context-sensitivity of gradable adjectives.

Her current research aims to explore the variety of linguistic mechanisms that underscore evaluative discourse. One direction of research concerns the classification of adjectives and aims to put forward a battery of linguistic criteria that tease apart subjectivity from evaluativity. Another direction studies the ways in which the valence evaluative judgments may depend on the context. Yet a third direction explores the semantics and pragmatics of expressive meaning, as when we use pejoratives, such as ’jerk’. While the primary focus is on theoretical questions, Stojanovic incorporates in her work methodologies from experimental pragmatics as well as corpus linguistics. The study of evaluative language is likely to have a broader, including areas such as metaethics, aesthetics and epistemology.