Edited by Terttu Nevalainen, Irma Taavitsainen, Päivi Pahta and Minna Korhonen
[Studies in Language Variation 2] 2008
► pp. 17–36
In addition to its primary temporal meaning, the adverb now displays a variety of pragmatic meanings in present-day English. Now serves as a means to structure topic changes or to emphasise different steps in an argumentation, providing “a temporal index for the world within the utterance” (Schiffrin 1987: 245). On an interpersonal level, the marker can introduce a subjective opinion, often placing the speaker’s view in disalignment with that of others. With the recognition of interpersonal differences, now also offers the hearer a chance to be involved in the suggested discourse frame. Diachronically, semantically bleached meanings of now are attested as early as the Old English period (Aijmer 2002). This paper aims to further examine various stages in the marker’s semanticpragmatic development, with specific attention for the influence of underlying hypotheses of grammaticalisation – implying semantic bleaching and pragmatic strengthening – and processes of (inter)subjectification, through which historical language change develops meanings that focus increasingly on speaker and addressee (Traugott 1999). The material for this paper is taken from three historical corpora containing speech-based data, i.e. the diachronic part of theHelsinki Corpus of English Texts (HC), the Corpus of Early English Correspondence (Sampler) (CEECS), and the Corpus of English Dialogues (CED).
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