Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X
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This paper deals with the conceptual semantics and the discourse functions of Spanish epistemic adverbs and/or adverbial phrases such as quizá, tal vez, a lo mejor, igual, lo mismo ‘maybe/perhaps’ in informal conversation. The study is based upon the following hypothesis: the best basis for a modal adverb to be ‘successful’ in spontaneous conversation is having a ‘dynamic’ semantic profile with an ‘instructional’ role in speaker-participant interaction. It will be shown that the conceptual profiles of grammaticalized adverbial expressions such as a lo mejor allow for specific interactional functions in conversation. The argument is corroborated by striking semantic and frequency differences with the less grammaticalized but more productive modal adverbs ending in -mente (posiblemente and probablemente). My corpus analysis also indicates that, from an interactional point of view, a lo mejor, igual and lo mismo have consistent discourse functions which quizá(s) and the adverbs in -mente clearly lack.


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