Tracing thick and thin concepts through corpora

Language and Cognition (2024)
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Abstract

Philosophers and linguists currently lack the means to reliably identify evaluative concepts and measure their evaluative intensity. Using a corpus-based approach, we present a new method to distinguish evaluatively thick and thin adjectives like ‘courageous’ and ‘awful’ from descriptive adjectives like ‘narrow,’ and from value-associated adjectives like ‘sunny.’ Our study suggests that the modifiers ‘truly’ and ‘really’ frequently highlight the evaluative dimension of thick and thin adjectives, allowing for them to be uniquely classified. Based on these results, we believe our operationalization may pave the way for a more quantitative approach to the study of thick and thin concepts.

Author Profiles

Kevin Reuter
University of Zürich
Lucien Baumgartner
University of Zürich
Pascale Willemsen
University of Zürich

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