Takashi Hamada Keio University “Evaluative Meaning of Negative Expression: Asymmetry between readable and unreadable.”
The aim of this paper is to examine the relationship between negative expression and evaluative meaning, making use of the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). The English antonymous pair formed by readable and unreadable is in an asymmetrical relationship, though these two adjectives are structurally symmetrical, in that only the latter assumes facial expressions of human beings as the target of reading. What causes such an unexpected difference is evaluative meaning, that is, the speaker’s positive or negative feeling or emotion conveyed additionally to the denotative meaning by linguistic expressions. Finally, it is concluded that the contrastive relationship between the two words varies in accordance with a combination of the following three factors (a) the standard of positive evaluation conveyed by the suffix –able; (b) the most salient stage in the procedure of reading; (c) the object of reading activity.