To be “a Boat Load Healthier” and not to “Care a Single Scrap” : on the adverbialization of English size nouns

Herda, Damian (2022) To be “a Boat Load Healthier” and not to “Care a Single Scrap” : on the adverbialization of English size nouns. GEMA ; Online Journal of Language Studies, 22 (2). pp. 111-127. ISSN 1675-8021


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While the grammaticalization of English size nouns into vague quantifiers has already received a considerable amount of scholarly attention, their subsequent syntactic expansion beyond the nominal domain remains an under-researched area. In particular, little has hitherto been written about the possible factors contributing to the emergence of additional adverbial uses of such items. Based on synchronic corpus data, this paper therefore aims to partially fill in this gap by providing an analysis of the adverbialization patterns of nine nominal forms of this kind, namely bit, scrap, shred, heap, heaps, load, loads, lot, and lots, whose empirical tokens have been classified into six categories: (i) verbal inherent modification, (ii) verbal extent modification, (iii) adverbial ambiguous, (iv) object-pronominal, (v) adjectival modification of positives, and (vi) adjectival modification of comparatives. The results demonstrate that in the verbal domain, most of the analyzed forms reveal a preference for pronominal uses, in which they function as an argument of the verb rather than a genuine degree adverb, while in the adjectival domain, a majority of the items, especially ‘large size’ nouns, exhibit a conspicuous propensity to combine with the comparative forms of adjectives/adverbs. Moreover, it is shown that there exists a strong positive correlation between the items’ respective degrees of grammaticalization in the quantifier function and their extents of adverbialization, operationalized as the proportion of pertinent attestations in corpus samples. Thus, the study underscores the role of frequency in grammaticalization on the one hand, and points to the importance of paradigmatic analogy on the other.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Grammaticalization; Adverbialization; Size nouns; English; corpus-based study
Journal:GEMA ; Online Journal of Language Studies
ID Code:19923
Deposited By: ms aida -
Deposited On:22 Sep 2022 01:02
Last Modified:28 Sep 2022 16:01

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