Article published in:The Rise and Development of Evidential and Epistemic Markers
Edited by Silvio Cruschina and Eva-Maria Remberger
[Journal of Historical Linguistics 7:1/2] 2017
► pp. 134–159
The rise and development of parenthetical needless to say
An assumed evidential strategy
The article traces the diachronic development of the assumed evidential needless to say. This parenthetical expression allows the speaker to make certain assertions regarding the obviousness of what s/he is about to say, thus serving as an evidential strategy that marks the information conveyed as being based on inference and/or assumed or general knowledge. Parenthetical needless to say has its roots in the Early Modern English needless to-inf construction (meaning ‘it is unnecessary to do something’), which originally licensed a wide range of infinitives. Over the course of time, however, it became restricted to uses with utterance verbs, eventually giving rise to the grammaticalized evidential expression needless to say. In fact, it is only in Late Modern English that the evidential pragmatic inferences become conventionalized and that the first parenthetical uses of the construction are attested. In Present-day English, parenthetical needless to say occurs primarily at the left periphery with forward scope.
Keywords: needless to say , parenthetical, assumed evidentiality, (inter)subjectification, grammaticalization
Published online: 23 November 2017
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