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Contingency hedges in Dutch, French and English

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Abstract

This article reports on a detailed corpus-based and contrastive analysis of the syntactic, semantic and functional properties of English <i>depend</i>, French <i>d&#233;pendre</i> and Dutch <i>afhangen</i>, <i>liggen</i> and <i>zien</i> as markers of intersubjectivity. Based on three large-scale monolingual corpora of spoken English, French and Dutch, the results show that these intersubjectivity markers are semantically related to a conditional meaning of the verbs they are based on: viewpoints expressed or asked for in the preceding discourse are presented as valid only in particular circumstances. Furthermore, it is shown that the markers have undergone a process of decategorialisation, as they appear almost exclusively in third person present tense, and as the range of subjects that can be combined with these markers is more restricted than the non-intersubjective uses of these verbs. Finally, a detailed corpus analysis of the Dutch markers shows that their use is mainly determined by regional and functional parameters.

References

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