Exploring the multidimensionality of exclamatives

In this talk, I propose a new approach to exclamative sentences (i.e., sentences such as "What a nice proposal they submitted!"). I claim that exclamatives can denote both truth-conditional and expressive content, and that they should therefore be analyzed as multidimensional semantic objects. According to many current approaches, the descriptive content that ‘someone submitted a nice proposal’ is presupposed and not asserted; the exclamative thus contributes merely an emotive stance and lacks assertive force. I will first present and discuss recent experimental evidence contradicting this view and supporting the idea that the descriptive content of exclamatives is 'at-issue'. In particular, I will demonstrate that the often-cited infelicity of certain reactions to particular exclamation forms (e.g., strong denial in the context of wh-exclamatives) is actually a very subtle matter. I will then turn to the issue to what extent exclamatives can serve as responses to questions, and I will discuss cases that suggest that some of the response uses can in fact count as assertion speech acts.