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Think really different: Continuity and specialization in the English dual form adverbs

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Abstract:

This paper analyses variation between -ly and -ΓΈ in English dual form adverbs by examining conversational data from York, U.K. Using multivariate analysis and the comparative method we assess the constraint ranking, significance and relative importance of external factors (age, sex, education level) and internal factors (lexical identity, function and meaning). The results show that -ly is dominant and has increased dramatically in apparent time. However, cross-tabulations with individual lexical items reveal that this correlation with speaker age is restricted to a single item–really. In conjunction with evidence from the history of English, we suggest that this does not reflect ongoing developments in English adverb formation, but is the result of continuous renewal in the encoding of ‘intensity’. In contrast, separate analysis of the other adverbs shows that variation between -ly and zero is retained in part as a socio-symbolic resource, in particular for marking less educated male speech. Underlying this social meaning however, is a linguistic constraint which operates across all speakers. The zero adverb encodes concrete, objective meaning–a tendency which can be traced back 650 years or more. This provides yet another example of the interface between social and historical developments in language variation and change.

Keywords: English dual form adverbs; adverbialization; really; social marker

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00186

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto, Canada and University of York, UK, 2: St. Olaf College, Minnesota

Publication date: 2002-05-01

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