Article published in:Diachronic Corpus Pragmatics
Edited by Irma Taavitsainen, Andreas H. Jucker and Jukka Tuominen
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 243] 2014
► pp. 29–52
I had lost sight of them then for a bit, but I went on pretty fast
Two degree modifiers in the Old Bailey Corpus
This article investigates the degree modifiers pretty and a bit in the subsection 1730s–1830s of the Old Bailey Corpus (OBC), containing speech-based/related data (ca. 50 million words). Pretty is shown to be already grammaticalized, with the degree modifier uses clearly dominating. Subjectification is evidenced both by the downtoning and upgrading degree meanings as well as by the ironic uses. While a bit is also semantically versatile and shows nuances of subjectification, it is far less grammaticalized than pretty, as the degree uses are in the clear minority. The change seems to be led by a bit of (a)-constructions rather than by simple a bit.
Published online: 11 March 2014
= Middle English Dictionary 2001 University of Michigan. Online: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/med/ .
OBC = Old Bailey Corpus
The speech-tagged and sociobiographically annotated version (0.5, June 2011) prepared under the supervision of Magnus Huber at the University of Giessen; based on the Proceedings of the Old Bailey, see http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/ .
= Oxford English Dictionary , 3rd edition in progress 1989– Oxford: Oxford University Press. Online: http://www.oed.com/ .
WordSmith Tools (version 5.0)
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Claridge, Claudia, and Merja Kytö
Forthcoming. “‘I know you are a bit of a dandy’: Exploring a Degree Modifier.” In Late Modern English Syntax in Its Linguistic and Socio-historical Context ed. by Marianne Hundt Cambridge Cambridge University Press
2007 “The Old Bailey Proceedings, 1674–1834: Evaluating and Annotating a Corpus of 18th- and 19th-century Spoken English.” In Annotating Variation and Change (Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English 1), ed. by Anneli Meurman-Solin, and Arja Nurmi, n.p. Online: http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/01/huber/ .
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