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The pragmaticalization and intensification of <i>verily</i>, <i>truly</i> and <i>really</i>

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Abstract

This article discusses the semantic-pragmatic developments of three adverbs from the semantic field of veracity, <i>verily</i>, <i>truly</i> and <i>really</i>. They share a number of truth-assessing functions in present-day discourse but show significant differences in terms of frequency and in their individual range of semantic-pragmatic meanings. Our aim is to explore the hypothesis that the selected forms have undergone a double &#8220;meaning extension&#8221; involving both pragmaticalization and grammaticalization patterns, respectively acquiring more pragmatic meanings of subjective emphasis, and more grammaticalized uses as intensifiers. Results are based on detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis of corpus data drawn from the Helsinki Corpus and Corpus of English Dialogues 1560&#8211;1760, and indicate that each form is influenced by individual semantic source contexts and meanings.

References

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