Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676
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This paper explores diachronic shifts in the literal and intensifying uses of ‘dead’ in the Dutch fake reflexive resultative construction. Without sufficient context, a clause like (lit. ‘He worked himself dead’) is ambiguous in that it is unclear whether expresses an actual result of the activity denoted by the verb or whether it intensifies that verbal activity. We will investigate shifts in the (relative) type and token frequencies of both subtypes over the last two centuries and show that the intensifying use has become predominant. Particular attention is paid to the notion of productivity, which may help us to elucidate the possible pathways along which – in its function as an intensifier – is moving. By taking into account the variety of verbs that has occurred with since the early 19th Century, we aim to assess whether the dramatic increase in relative frequency of intensifying is paralleled by a concomitant extension of its collocational range or, conversely, whether this increase in frequency is mainly due to the rise of some highly frequent collocations.


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