The things that we can(not) exclaim!




semantics, syntax/semantics, exclamatives, wh-exclamatives, nominal exclamatives, expressive intensification, English, Russian


English famously has both wh- and nominal exclamatives (e.g., Portner & Zanuttini 2005). For instance, both What (strange) stories Nina tells! and The (strange) stories that Nina tells! are expressive speech acts about the very high degree that the stories that Nina tells have on some—explicit or implicit—scale. However, puzzlingly enough, Russian only has wh-, but not nominal exclamatives. I propose, partially following Esipova 2021, that both wh- and nominal exclamatives are instances of expressive intensification (akin to She is damn smart), with the expressive component of the expressive intensifier promoted to being the primary speech act (not unlike in Damn {she is / is she} smart!). However, while English can do direct intensification of NPs (e.g., He’s a damn coward) and can, thus, have nominal exclamatives, Russian can only do expressive intensification by predicating a degree property of a free relative over degrees and can, thus, only have wh-exclamatives.




How to Cite

Esipova, Maria. 2024. “The Things That We can(not) Exclaim!”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 9 (1): 5723.