<i>I had lost sight of them then for</i> a bit, <i>but I went on</i> pretty <i>fast</i>
This article investigates the degree modifiers <i>pretty</i> and <i>a bit</i> in the subsection 1730s–1830s of the <i>Old Bailey Corpus</i> (OBC), containing speech-based/related data (ca. 50 million words). <i>Pretty</i> is shown to be already grammaticalized, with the degree modifier uses clearly dominating. Subjectification is evidenced both by the downtoning and upgrading degree meanings as well as by the ironic uses. While <i>a bit is </i>also semantically versatile and shows nuances of subjectification, it is far less grammaticalized than <i>pretty</i>, as the degree uses are in the clear minority. The change seems to be led by <i>a bit of (a)</i>-constructions rather than by simple <i>a bit</i>.