Reference : Comparative modals (Dis)similar diachronic tendencies
Scientific journals : Article
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
Comparative modals (Dis)similar diachronic tendencies
Van linden, An mailto [Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - KUL > > > >]
Functions of Language
John Benjamins Publishing Co
Yes (verified by ORBi)
[en] This article examines modal expressions with the comparative adverbs better, rather and sooner in American English, and assesses to what extent they have grammaticalized. The corpus data offer evidence that the three comparative modal groups exhibit considerable phonetic reduction in the 1810-2009 period studied. Analysis of several aspects of the constructions, such as subject types, temporal reference and comparative meaning, reveals which conditions promoted this erosion. However, the data also indicate that the three groups are semantically and constructionally quite heterogeneous. In fact, this article proposes a grammaticalization scenario for the rather and sooner structures that is different from the one posited for the better structures.
FWO - Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Vlaanderen ; Research Council of the University of Leuven [GOA/12/007]
The research reported on in this article has been made possible by the Research Foundation Flanders - FWO (postdoctoral grant 1.2.767.11.N.00) and the Research Council of the University of Leuven (project GOA/12/007). I thank Kristin Davidse and Jean-Christophe Verstraete as well as two anonymous referees of Functions of Language and editor Geoffrey Thompson for useful comments on an earlier version of this article.

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