In this diachronic study, we shed light on the development of the functions and structural properties of Adverb all, and suggest that degree modifiers in general should be analyzed in similar terms. We show that the harmonic relationship between Adverb all and its head is best accounted for in terms of boundedness rather than gradability (see Kennedy & McNally, 2005; Paradis, 2001). The stability over a millennium of indeterminacy between bounded and unbounded readings of Adverb all + head sequences, and of the ambiguity in many contexts between Adverb and Quantifier-floated all, shows that a division of labor over time between ambiguous meanings is not necessary (Geeraerts, 1997). Despite its long history, Adverb all has been treated as conversational or an innovation (Bäcklund, 1973; Waksler, 2001). We address the question why certain items like all come to be stereotyped as ‘new’ when in fact they are not.
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