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"That's absolutely fine" - a case of hyperbolic intensification

Seminarium, Föreläsning

Karin Aimer, professor emerita vid Göteborgs universitet, föreläser inom forskningsområdet Språkliga strukturer vid institutionen för språk och litteraturer. Föreläsningen ingår också i Grammatikseminariet vid institutionen för svenska språket. Alla intresserade är välkomna!

Intensifiers such as absolutely, really and so have an important function in language to convey the speaker's emotions or emphasise a particular element. Speakers do not only say that something is exciting but "it is absolutely exciting" or "really exciting". One reason for being interested in intensifiers is that the system is in a state of continuous change where new intensifiers emerge, fall out of fashion and are replaced by new, more colourful ones. This situation makes intensifiers interesting to study from the perspective of variation and change.

My presentation will describe a case study of the developments of the intensifying adverb absolutely over a short period of time. Normally we cannot study language changes while they are on-going. The trigger for this study was the possibility to describe the use of absolutely in the new spoken BNC2014 (Love et al 2017) and to make a comparison with the "old" BNC from the beginning of the 1990s. The diachronic study of intensifiers describes their developments over time in a grammaticalization/delexicalization perspective. The related research questions are: How does absolutely rise in frequency over a short period of time? How is the extent or degree of grammaticalization of absolutely reflected in its syntactic and semantic patterning? In particular intensifiers put the spotlight on the adjective and its semantic properties. What observations can we make about the speakers? Young people can, for example, be assumed to "be hyperbolic" and use absolutely differently from adults.

Absolutely has been analysed as a "maximizing" adverb co-existing harmoniously with extreme adjectives (eg wonderful) or limit adjectives (true) and with verbs ("I absolutely love burgers") (Paradis 1997). Absolutely may also be used with less adverbial meaning and the discourse function to express the speaker's commitment modifying the whole utterance ("it's a beautiful day absolutely"). Moreover, absolutely occurs alone without an adjective as a response to what has been said earlier where the change can be understood as the result of the requirements of spoken interaction. In my presentation of absolutely, which represents on-going work, I will discuss these issues.

Love, R., Dembry. C., Hardie. A., Brezina,V. and McEnery, T. . 2017. "The Spoken BNC2014 - designing and building a spoken corpus of everyday conversations." International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 22 (3):319-344.
Paradis, C. 2017. Degree modifiers of adjectives in spoken British English. Lund: Lund University Press.

Föreläsare: Karin Aijmer, professor emerita i engelsk språkvetenskap, Göteborgs universitet

Datum: 2018-11-29

Tid: 13:15 - 14:45

Kategorier: Lingvistik, Humaniora, Forskning, Språk

Arrangör: institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Plats: H818

Kontaktperson: Laura Downing

Sidansvarig: Webbredaktionen|Sidan uppdaterades: 2018-01-11

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