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The use of heaps as quantifier and intensifier in New Zealand English 1


This article documents novel uses of the noun heaps in New Zealand English, namely as quantifier and intensifier, by means of quantitative and qualitative analyses of corpus data. Closely following in the footsteps of lots, heaps is the second most frequent size noun in New Zealand English. On the basis of exhaustive coding of four corpora of New Zealand English (spoken and written), the article describes and exemplifies the various uses of heaps in this English variety. Results show heaps is preferred in speech compared to writing, and that its most common use is as a quantifier, followed by an extension to an intensifying use, which has received comparatively less attention in the literature (and never specifically in the context of New Zealand English). An examination of early New Zealand English in the ONZE Corpus testifies to this incoming change, with heaps grammaticalizing into an adverb and bearing the semantic role of intensifier. Multivariate statistical tests show that innovative uses of heaps are largely driven by younger speakers.

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I thank Sally Harper for help in coding the examples containing heaps in the two Wellington corpora, Paul James for pointing out the unusual ways in which New Zealand English uses heaps, Liam Walsh for his guidance in accessing the Quake Corpus and the ONZE Miner corpora, Steven Miller for advice on the GLM model, and the NZ Linguistics Society 2016 conference audience members for valuable comments and feedback. Finally, I am grateful to the two anonymous referees and the journal editor, Laurel Brinton, for insightful and meticulous suggestions. Any remaining errors are my own.

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English Language & Linguistics
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