Volume 21, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1384-6655
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9811
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In this cross-genre study of the literal versus exaggerated meanings of the frequency adverbs and , I analyze three data sets: written and spoken language (academic speech, unscripted TV/radio dialog, and casual speech); local, national, and international news articles; and humanities, science-technology, and medical articles. For each genre, I calculate what I call the ‘Exaggeration Quotient’ (instances of and divided by instances of or and or , respectively) and the rate of negation of . Large Exaggeration Quotients and low negation rates were associated with informality, a pattern explicable in terms of specific aspects of informal language that motivate exaggeration, including perceived accountability for accuracy. In other words, formality is a proxy for certain features, goals, and expectations which are associated with certain genres and which affect how we use and understand and . This analysis supports a cognitive-functional, encyclopedic view of meaning.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): accountability; adverbs; cognitive; frequency; hyperbole
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