Volume 32 Number 4
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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Intensification is prone to invention and renewal, rendering it ideal for delving into mechanisms of variation and change. Recycling (via lexical replacement) is a putative longitudinal constant, yet grammatical change (via grammaticalization) is regularly invoked in the literature. It is not clear how these complement each other. To probe this issue, this paper operationalizes variationist methods to examine intensification in the Origins of New Zealand English Corpus (ONZE; Gordon et al. 2007). The analysis draws on nearly 13,000 tokens across the longue durée (Braudel 1958, 1980), tracing intensification over 130 years of vernacular speech. The picture that emerges extends beyond the distributional waxing and waning of forms. There is evidence for lexical change, but the longitudinal trajectory is not always continuous. Replacement entails reorganization followed by leveling, and grammatical correlates shift across time. Nonetheless, the inherent form/function asymmetry that characterizes the sector also supports periods of ‘fevered’ change.


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