<i>The which is most and right harde to answere</i>: Intensifying <i>right</i> and <i>most</i> in earlier English

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This paper studies the intensifying use of <i>most</i>, comparing it to the behaviour of<i>right</i>, one of the most common Middle English intensifiers. Using evidence from the Helsinki Corpus, this investigation shows that both items modify the same type of adjectival heads, namely bounded subjective positive adjectives, which suggests that they are not prototypical boosters, but come close to maximisers. While <i>most </i>is first found in typically comparative structures, later extending to intensifying contexts, <i>right </i>first occurs in intensifying environments, but can spread to superlative structures due to its original bounded nature. <i>Most </i>succeeds <i>right </i>on the temporal axis, and while it is equivalent to <i>right </i>in some environments, evidence from honorifics suggests that it usually indicates an even higher degree of intensification.


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