An application of Solomon's semantic theory of emotion words to 20 Dutch displeasure terms is empirically tested in a quasi-ecological way: the semantic specification of a word is systematically transformed into a real-life story. Subjects confronted with the story should recover the word that gave rise to it. The fit between theory and data turns out to be only moderately satisfactory and this is attributed to the theory as such, rather than to specificities of the semantic description. The theory tends to a semantics that is ‘esoteric’, over-meticulous and too ‘formal’.

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