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. 169–197
Two sides of the same coin?
Tracking the history of the intensifiers deadly and mortal
This chapter presents a corpus-based study on the origin and development of two death-related intensifiers: the adjectives and adverbs deadly and mortal. The historical sources consulted reveal that these forms have progressively adopted more general meanings, that is, they have come to be grammaticalized as intensifiers over time. Two semantic variables, type of meaning (descriptive, affective, or intensifying, along the lines of Adamson 2000) and semantic prosody (Stubbs 1995), were central to the collocational diachronic analysis undertaken here. The study focuses on British English and covers the history of deadly and mortal from their origins in Old English and Middle English, respectively, to the 20th century.
Published online: 08 April 2020