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Evolutionary Syntax

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The Making of Vernacular Singapore English

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Academic Paper

Title: On the History of 'downright'
Author: Belén Méndez-Naya
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Using data retrieved from a variety of diachronic corpora and the OED quotation database, this diachronic study sheds light on the origin and development of the degree function of a low-frequency intensifier, English downright, both as an adverb (it's downright rude) and as a reinforcing adjective (downright nonsense). The history of downright illustrates the interplay between lexicalization and grammaticalization in the evolution of a single item and provides a good example of the crucial role of context and inferencing in semantic change, and of two different trajectories in the development of intensifiers (adjunct > degree modifier, and descriptive adjective > affective adjective > intensifier).


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 12, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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