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Title: The Semantic Field of Modal Certainty
Subtitle: A Corpus-based Study of English Adverbs
Written By: Anne-Marie Simon-Vandenbergen
Karin Ajmer
Series Title: Topics in English Linguistics 56

In spite of the vast literature on modality in English, very little
research has been done on modal adverbs as a group. While there are studies
of individual adverbs, the semantic and pragmatic relations between them
have been left largely unexplored. This book takes a close look at the
whole field of modal certainty as expressed by adverbs in English. On the
basis of corpus data the most frequent adverbs of certainty, including
certainly, indeed, and no doubt, are examined from the point of view of
their syntactic, semantic and pragmatic characteristics. The corpus used is
the International Corpus of English - Great Britain, supplemented by data
from other present-day English corpora, and questionnaires testing native
speakers’ intuitions on fine-grained similarities and differences between
closely related adverbs.

The methodology also includes the study of cross-linguistic equivalents as
indicators of semantic-pragmatic relations between adverbs. Translation
corpora yield correspondences in Swedish, Dutch, French and German. A
detailed study of those correspondences adds useful information for setting
up a semantic-pragmatic profile of each adverb, showing where their
meanings overlap and where the boundaries are. The concept of semantic maps
is relied on for plotting these relations.

The book not only provides a thorough empirical study of English adverbs
expressing certainty, it also contributes to a better theoretical
understanding of the complexity of modal certainty, how it is related to
speakers’ goals and to other semantic areas. It is the first in-depth study
of this kind, combining rich information on English as well as opening up
perspectives for further empirical and theoretical research into modality.

Publication Year: 2007
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Subject Language(s): English
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 3110196174
ISBN-13: 9783110196177
Pages: 395
Prices: Europe EURO 98.00
U.S. $ 137.00