Chapter published in:Corpora and the Changing Society: Studies in the evolution of English
Edited by Paula Rautionaho, Arja Nurmi and Juhani Klemola
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 96] 2020
► pp. 143–167
That’s absolutely fine
An investigation of absolutely in the spoken BNC2014
This chapter investigates the meanings and functions of the intensifier absolutely, both synchronically and diachronically. The research questions are asked against the background of absolutely becoming more frequent over a short period of time as shown by a comparison of the BNC1994 and the BNC2014. The results show that the developments undergone by absolutely can be described as a trajectory from degree modifier to emphasizer and to discourse marker, as absolutely increases in subjectivity. The description of the semantic and pragmatic developments also requires a sociolinguistic analysis of factors such as age and gender. The analysis shows that young speakers use it less often than older speakers and that it was first used by male speakers and only later by females.
Published online: 08 April 2020