Hoeksema Colloquium

January 31
Rosenwald 011
University of Groningen
Diversity and diachrony in the marking of degree

This talk is on diachronic developments among adverbs of degree, focussing on the tremendous growth of this category in the period 1600-2000. I argue that the growth leads to increasing specialization among adverbs of degree, including sensitivity to both sentential and antonymic polarity, syntactic categories, lexical semantic classes, negative and positive connotation, and prosodic factors. I will illustrate these claims with corpus data from English and Dutch. A lot of the changes appear to be Sprachbund phenomena, spreading easily across the Western European languages.