Tasting and testing

  • Inés Crespo
  • Frank VeltmanEmail author
Open Access


Our main concern in this paper is the semantics of predicates of personal taste. However, in order to see these predicates in the right perspective, we had to broaden the scope to the wider class of relative gradable adjectives. We present an analysis of the meaning of these adjectives in the framework of update semantics. In this framework the meaning of a sentence is not identified with its truth conditions, but with its (potential) impact on people’s intentional states. In this respect, an important characteristic of relative gradable adjectives is the interplay between their evaluative features and people’s expectations. The dynamic set-up also makes it possible (a) to model the interpretation of a relative gradable adjective without supposing that the context always supplies a ‘cut-off’ point determining its application, and (b) to deal in a pragmatic way with situations in which the Sorites paradox arises.


Relative gradable adjectives Predicates of personal taste Update semantics Evaluativity 



We gratefully acknowledge support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to the VAAG-Project “Vagueness, approximation and granularity” (231-80-004). This project was a component of the EUROCORES Programme “Modelling Intelligent Interaction—Logic in the Humanities, Social and Computational Sciences” coordinated by the European Science Foundation. The ideas underlying this paper have been presented at various venues: University of Tilburg, University of Utrecht, Peking University, the TARK summerschool at the University of Maryland, University of Barcelona, Rutgers University, Université Paris-Diderot. We are grateful to the audiences for the feedback they provided. We also want to thank Robert van Rooij and Martin Stokhof, whose questions and comments were constitutive for the development of our thoughts. Finally, the feedback of the two anonymous reviewers made us change our mind on a number of issues and forced us to be a lot clearer than we originally were.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NYU ParisParisFrance
  2. 2.Institut Jean Nicod, Département d’études cognitivesENS, EHESS, CNRS, PSL UniversityParisFrance
  3. 3.College of Foreign Languages, Hunan UniversityChangshaChina
  4. 4.Institute for Logic, Language and ComputationUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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