Reference : Negation, grammaticalization and subjectification: the development of polar, modal an...
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
Negation, grammaticalization and subjectification: the development of polar, modal and mirative no way-constructions
Davidse, Kristin [> >]
Brems, Lieselotte mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des langues et littératures modernes > Langue anglaise & Linguist.synchro.& l'anglais >]
Lesage, Jakob [> >]
Van linden, An mailto [> >]
du 14 juillet 2014 au 18 juillet 2014
[en] This paper investigates the paths of grammaticalization and semantic change that led from structures with lexical uses of way to grammatical operators containing ‘no’ way that convey polar, modal and mirative meanings. Preliminary analysis of data from the OED, the Penn Corpora of Historical English, the Corpus of Late Modern English (CLMET), Wordbanks (WB) and the Corpus of American Soap Operas suggests the following main lines of development, which will be further detailed on the basis of extensive qualitative and quantitative data-analyses.
The earliest grammaticalization path yielded emphatic adverbial negators of the forms noneways (13th C) and no way (14th C), via bridging contexts allowing both a lexical ‘in no manner’ and grammatical ‘not at all’ meaning, as in (1).

(1) How miʒte þei mon of synne make clene? Certis, no wey, as hit is sene. (c1325 Cursor Mundi)

In Late Modern English, a new grammaticalization cycle recruited in no way which numerically took over as negator in the same structural contexts as no way, e.g.

(2) these things need not be specially forced upon him. In no way should he be led to emphasize them (CLMET)

A different and more recent grammaticalization path has, via bridging contexts such as (3), where a reading of situation- or participant-inherent impossibility can be inferred, led to verbo-nominal expressions (Loureiro-Porto 2010) of modality, which in Present-day English express mainly dynamic (cf. 3), but also epistemic (4) and deontic meanings (Saad et al. 2012).

(3) he … thanked her rather shortly, but said there was no way of managing it. (CLMET)
(4) There's no way it was a domestic murder. (WB)

In a final semantic shift, which can be related to the two main grammaticalization paths, no way acquires mirative value, i.e. the conveying of surprise, roughly paraphrasable as ‘I can’t believe …’, which may either be blended with negation or modality, or form the sole meaning (5). Mirative no way relates both to the proposition and the interaction between the speech participants.

(5) … a figure appeared by the side of the road. ‘A hitchhiker!’ said Ellie excitedly. ‘Yeah, no way,’ said Julia. (WB)

This paper seeks to explain the semantic shifts in light of the conceptual relations (Lesage 2013) between the negation of propositions, whose “function … is … to emphasize that a fact is contrary to expectation” on the part of the hearer (Wason 1965: 7, cf. Werth 1999), modality, the speaker’s evaluation of the likelihood or desirability of a state-of-affairs, and mirativity, surprise regarding a fact that thwarts the speaker’s expectations (Peterson 2013). We will verify Lesage’s (2013) hypothesis that the development of no way involves a gradual increase in subjectivity (Narrog 2012) and discourse-orientation.


grammaticalization, subjectification, negation, modality, mirativity

Lesage, Jakob. 2013. Surprise and modality, negation and subjectification: Mirative functions of no way. Unpublished term paper. Linguistics department, KU Leuven.
Loureiro-Porto, Lucía. 2010. “Verbo-nominal Constructions of Necessity with þearf n. and need n.: Competition and Grammaticalization from OE to eModE.” English Language and Linguistics 14 (3): 373–397.
Narrog, Heiko. 2012. Modality, Subjectivity, and Semantic Change: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Peterson, Tyler. 2013. “Rethinking Mirativity: The Expression and Implication of Surprise”. University of Toronto.
Saad, Khalida, Wouter Parmentier, Lot Brems, Kristin Davidse, and An Van Linden. 2012. “The Development of Modal, Polar and Mirative No Way-constructions”. Paper presented at ICAME 33, 31 May-5 June, University of Leuven.
Wason, Peter Cathcart. 1965. “The Contexts of Plausible Denial.” Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 4 (1): 7–11.
Werth, Paul. 1999. Text Worlds: Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse. Textual Explorations. London: Longman.
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