Volume 48, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978



This article investigates the forms and functions of adjectival intensification in West Germanic. With corpus data from different discourse types, we challenge claims that German tends to use synthetic means and Dutch is between German and English but more like English in its preference for analytic ones. Our results show that all three languages, and Afrikaans too, favor analytic intensifiers but also that only English employs synthetic ones to a lesser extent. The other languages are found to use synthetic forms more especially in literature. The study also offers corpus-based support for an earlier hypothesis that both English and German prefer amplifying to downtoning adjectives. We show that this tendency exists more pronouncedly in Afrikaans and Dutch too and that English speech stands out with more functionally ambiguous intensifiers. The article also explores possible explanations for its findings in (dis)similarities in word formation, discourse types’ linguistic potential and politeness

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): amplification; analytic; downtoning; synthetic
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