Historical patterns for the grammatical marking of stance
A cross-register comparison
English has a rich supply of grammatical devices used to express “stance”: epistemic or attitudinal comments on propositional information. The present paper explores historical change in the preferred devices used to mark stance. By examining the entire system of stance devices, the study attempts to investigate the underlying patterns of change. Three major patterns are possible: 1) changes in social norms could result in speakers and writers expressing stance meanings to differing extents in different periods; 2) the grammatical system for the expression of stance could undergo change, showing an overall decline in the use of some grammatical devices, replaced by an increase in the use of other devices; 3) the patterns of use could undergo sharper register diversification over time, with particular stance devices taking on more specialized uses in particular registers. These possibilities are explored through corpus-based analysis of the written and speech-based registers in the ARCHER corpus, tracking the patterns of change across the past three centuries.
Published online: 08 March 2004
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