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The lady was al demonyak: historical aspects of Adverb all


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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A shorter version of this paper was presented at the SHEL 4 conference in Flagstaff, Arizona (30 September – 1 October 2005). We would like to thank the members of the audience as well as the other members of the Stanford ALL project (John Rickford, Zoe Bogart, Tracy Connor, Kelly Drinkwater, Rowyn McDonald, Thomas Wasow, Laura Whitton, and Arnold Zwicky) for many fruitful discussions from which this paper has greatly benefited. Thanks also to David Beaver, Kristin Davidse, and Florian Jaeger for comments and references. Two anonymous reviewers also provided helpful suggestions.
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English Language & Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1360-6743
  • EISSN: 1469-4379
  • URL: /core/journals/english-language-and-linguistics
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