Volume 46, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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Truth markers commonly evolve into intensifiers (Heine & Kuteva 2002), but we here argue that this shift is only indirect, and a counter-loosening phase necessarily mediates between truth marking and intensification. Counter-looseners instruct the addressee to avoid (or rather, constrain) the very natural interpretative process of broadening, whereby the speaker-intended concept would have been taken as a loosened, “more or less” interpretation of the meaning of the modified expression (Carston 2002). We provide a diachronic analysis for Hebrew ‘really’, which supports our point, and we reinterpret diachronic analyses of other truth markers in order to show that they too underwent a counter-loosening phase before turning intensifiers. Finally, we briefly distinguish between a counter-loosening mediated intensifier evolution (for truth markers, particularizers and maximizers) and a direct evolutionary path into intensification for originally upscaling expressions (extreme scalar modifiers and augmenters).


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