The competition between the intensifiers <i>dead</i> and <i>deadly</i>

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The present paper aims at shedding light on the diachronic evolution of two death-related intensifiers, <i>dead</i> and <i>deadly</i>, showing their subjectification and grammaticalisation over time. Data from the <i>Middle English Dictionary</i>, the <i>Oxford English Dictionary</i>, and three electronic databases (<i>Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Fiction, and Online Books Page</i>) are used to carry out a collocational analysis of both adverbial forms. A detailed study of the collocations of <i>dead</i> and <i>deadly</i> reveals different contexts of variation between the zero and the <i>-ly</i> counterparts. The paper additionally argues that these contexts of variation are not always random, and in certain cases owe to semantic considerations, while other occurrences of <i>dead</i> and <i>deadly</i> seem to point towards highly fossilised uses.


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