Chapter published in:Emotion in Discourse
Edited by J. Lachlan Mackenzie and Laura Alba-Juez
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 302] 2019
► pp. 55–86
The syntax of an emotional expletive in English
Various linguists have identified linguistic phenomena that express emotions rather than purely ideational or discursive meanings. From the viewpoint of Functional Discourse Grammar (FDG) adopted here, emotion is visible above all as an overlay on structures that communicate interpersonal and representational meanings. This is particularly apparent for ‘expletives’, words which are in themselves meaningless but ‘fill out’ the clause with an expression of emotion. This chapter focuses on the expletive use of fuck, fucking, fucking well and the fuck and their precisely delineable complementary syntactic distributions. The positioning of these expletives is identified for all types of syntactic phrase and nine kinds of pronoun, including the phenomenon of tmesis in, for example, im-fucking-possible. The items are identified as grammatical rather than lexical and as functioning as optional pragmatic markers, specifically as realizing an operator of emotional emphasis (EmoEmph) on Focused or Contrasted Subacts at FDG’s Interpersonal Level. This analysis is validated by examining the grammaticality or discourse-acceptability of all possible exceptions, and the repercussions are explored for the Morphosyntactic Level, where the syntactic distribution of the items is actually effected.
Keywords: emotion, focus, expletives, Functional Discourse Grammar
Published online: 27 March 2019
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