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Open Access pu-based Greek Rude Negators

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pu-based Greek Rude Negators

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This paper describes the distribution and typology of Greek Rude Negators: a colloquial, productive class of expressions based on the factive connective pu, whose illocutionary effect is emotive and denegatory, comparable to English Rude Negators (e.g. the hell I will). The semantics of this class, and even whether it denies or affirms its referent, is to a large extent motivated by implicature, and by the strength (appropriateness) of the invective introducing it. Other uses of pu, syntactically ambiguous with the rude negator, are seen to have had a clear effect on its interpretation. The existence of the class challenges the established wisdom that pu is factive: it demonstrates the need to understand the presuppositionality of pu in pragmatic rather than truth-conditional terms. I conclude with some speculation on the origins of the construction.

Affiliations: 1: University of Melbourne


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