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A preliminary typology of emotional connotations in morphological diminutives and augmentatives

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This article presents a preliminary typology of emotional connotations in evaluative morphology, starting with diminutives and augmentatives. I inventory the emotional meanings and connotations found in a sample of nineteen languages for diminutives, and nine languages plus a few additional regional studies for augmentatives. Given the small size of the samples, this typology can only remain preliminary, but it does highlight a number of points. Across languages and continents, diminutives can express positive emotions such as compassion, love and admiration, as well as negative emotions such as contempt. The emotional connotations of augmentatives are more limited, but display a blend of positive and negative emotions including contempt and repulsion, admiration and respect, endearment and compassion. Diminutives and augmentatives do not contrast sharply with respect to emotional valence (positive or negative), but while diminutives are anchored in intimacy, the emotions conveyed by augmentatives more often relate to broader social contexts.
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Keywords: augmentative; diminutive; emotions; evaluative morphology; expressivity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 19, 2018

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