Chapter published in:Voices Past and Present - Studies of Involved, Speech-related and Spoken Texts: In honor of Merja Kytö
Edited by Ewa Jonsson and Tove Larsson
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 97] 2020
► pp. 134–151
Epistemic adverbs in the Old Bailey Corpus
This study investigates selected epistemic adverbs in the courtroom discourse of the Old Bailey Corpus. Over time, more epistemic types are used in court and the frequencies of individual items are on the rise, with probably standing out as the most frequent item. All items are overwhelmingly used as sentence adverbs, which are mostly found in clause-medial positions. Additionally, the adverbs are used with medium frequency as focalizers, modifying words and phrases, and rarely as response items. All social groups show increasing usage, with higher-class males apparently leading the development. Witnesses are the most prolific user group, followed by defendants and judges. While all groups use probably frequently, witnesses show a preference for evidently and apparently and lawyers/judges for undoubtedly.
Keywords: epistemic adverbs, legal register, Late Modern English, sociopragmatic approach, language change
Published online: 05 October 2020
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