I am very stoked to announce that I just signed a contract with Oxford University Press for my next book. It will be called The Grammar of Expressivity and will be published in the Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics series.
Ever since I got my hands on Potts's 2005 book, I am dreaming of having a book at that series as well and I am happy that I am on the way to fulfill myself this little personal academic dream. But let's put these personal sentimentalities aside.
So, what's the book about? The main thesis is that expressivity – while in its core a semantic phenomenon – has strong syntactic reflexes that cannot be traced back to its special semantic properties. But let me quote from the book proposal:
While the expressive side of natural language has received a lot of attention in semantics and pragmatics in recent years, the work that is carried out from this direction does mostly not pay attention to the role syntax plays for expressive items. Starting from a semantic background, this book illustrates that semantics and pragmatics alone cannot capture all grammatical particularities of expressive items and that expressivity has strong syntactic reflexes that, while interacting with the semantic interpretation, are responsible for the mismatches between syntax and semantics that can be observed with most expressives. The main thesis the book argues for is that expressivity is a syntactic feature that partakes in syntactic operations like other established syntactic features. Evidence for this claim is drawn from several case studies of expressive phenomena: expressive adjectives, intensifiers, vocatives and interjections. It is argued that the mismatches between syntax and semantics can be mitigated by this acknowledgment that expressivity is also located in the syntax and not just in the semantics. Once this it is assumed that expressivity is a represented as a syntactic feature, minimalist approaches to syntactic agreement can be employed to tackle those mismatches between syntactic placement and semantic interpretation that cannot be traced back to the expressive semantics alone. This not only extends the usefulness of the agree operation beyond the traditional domains of agreement, but also highlights the role grammar played for phenomena that mostly are considered to be semantic in nature.