On the development of the Italian truth adverbs <i>davvero</i> and <i>veramente</i>

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The article compares the meanings and uses of the two main Italian adverbs of truth and truthfulness, namely <i>davvero</i> and <i>veramente</i>, across the whole documented history of the language. The investigation is carried out by inspection of two large corpora, <i>Opera del Vocabolario Italiano</i> (OVI; Old Italian) and <i>Letteratura Italiana Zanichelli</i> (LIZ; literary Italian from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century), supplemented by oral data from corpora of contemporary spoken Italian. While both items display a wide and overlapping polysemy, which includes objective and subjective uses, since the beginning of their documentation, <i>veramente</i> alone develops a new mitigation function when occurring in a confutational context. This represents a further evolution from subjectification to intersubjectification, in the perspective of Traugott&#8217;s model (Traugott and Dasher 2002; Traugott 2010a, 2010b), and arguably shows the relevance of interactional factors in semantic change, pointing in particular to the strong intersubjective potential of the turn-taking position, in which <i>veramente</i> occurs much more frequently than <i>davvero</i>.


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