Edited by Richard Dury, Maurizio Gotti and Marina Dossena
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 296] 2008
► pp. 53–74
This paper traces the history of bloody from a holistic perspective, that is, by considering bloody in relation to other items within the system of intensification. Using corpus evidence, the paper rejects current etymological proposals and suggests that the Reformation was the possible socio-historical context wherebloody became a taboo word and an intensifier. It goes on to explain how the adjective bloody became an intensifying adverb in collocation with ‘drunk’ through the cognitive-pragmatic processes of selective binding and analogy. This grammaticalisation cline sets bloody apart from a number of other intensifiers such as very, extremely, utterly, absolutely, which, unlike bloody, were originally manner adverbs and have severely reduced their syntagmatic variability. It also sets it apart from intensifiers such as good, nice, dirty, jolly, pretty and lovely, which, unlikebloody, always retain their descriptive meaning when used as adjectives.
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