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. 223–249
Analyzing change in the American English amplifier system in the fiction genre
This study examines the diachronic development of amplification of adjectives in American English (AmE), specifically in the fiction section of the Corpus of Historical American English (COHA). The results show that amplifier use in attributive contexts remains stable, while, in predicative contexts, so has increased significantly since the 1980s and has replaced very as the dominant amplifier. This development contrasts with ongoing change in other regional varieties of English where really, rather than so, has become the dominant amplifier of adjectives during the latter half of the 20th century. The results show that so and very are semantically highly similar and that the increase in so is mostly based on its co-occurrence with good.
Published online: 08 April 2020