Chapter published in:Pragmatic Markers, Discourse Markers and Modal Particles: New perspectives
Edited by Chiara Fedriani and Andrea Sansó
[Studies in Language Companion Series 186] 2017
► pp. 335–367
Dubitative-corrective constructions in Italian
This paper investigates the properties of a set of poorly described Italian constructions characterized, at the same time, by (i) a dubitative component, challenging a presupposition generated by the preceding context and (ii) a corrective function. These constructions revolve around four adverbial elements (al massimo, al limite, tutt’al più and caso mai) that have other functions besides the dubitative-corrective one. The analysis will illustrate how their dubitative-corrective function emerges in specific discourse configurations and will discuss their further pragmatic uses as mitigators, which appear to be crucially connected to the dubitative component. The theoretical implications of the analysis concern the definition itself of dubitative-corrective construction and the role of dialogical contexts in the development of a dubitative-corrective function. It will be shown that the constructions in question, though sharing a dubitative-corrective function, differ in various respects. These differences can be traced back to their different diachronic sources, namely a scalar construction for al massimo, al limite, and tutt’al più, and a conditional construction in the case of caso mai. The evolutionary paths leading from these source constructions to dubitative-corrective constructions present a different configuration, whereby the dubitative function emerges after the corrective function in the case of elements originally participating in a scalar construction (al limite, al massimo, tutt’al più) while in the development of caso mai the simple dubitative function precedes the dubitative-corrective one.
Keywords: dubitative-corrective constructions, scalar constructions, conditional constructions, mitigation
Published online: 13 November 2017
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