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Iconicity and subjectivisation in the English NP

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Abstract

Through a corpus-based study of the behaviour of <i>little</i> (ME-PDE), the paper explores (a) the effects of processes of subjectivisation (vid. De Smet and Verstraete 2006) on the syntactic configuration of the English NP and (b) how these latter relate to key iconicity postulates. More specifically, it suggests that, at least from the 19th century onwards, <i>little</i> has been developing &#8216;affix-like&#8217; affective functions (e.g. <i>a little minute</i>) that appear to challenge the much-cited association between subjectivisation and leftward movement (cf. Adamson 2000) and that assert the role of cultural salience in iconically-driven processes of change.

References

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