Chapter published in:Exploring Intensification: Synchronic, diachronic and cross-linguistic perspectives
Edited by Maria Napoli and Miriam Ravetto
[Studies in Language Companion Series 189] 2017
► pp. 15–32
The comparative basis of intensification
This paper argues that the ubiquitous cognitive process of comparing and the resultant judgements of similarity and dissimilarity also underlie the semantic processes of intensification and grading to a large extent. This comparative basis is visible both in the formal properties of many intensifiers and in central aspects of their semantics: Intensifiers may overtly encode a comparison (e.g. crystal clear, royally, outstanding) and an emotional reaction to a comparison (surprisingly, frightfully), or they may imply a comparison with a covert standard in endocentric expansions of simple adjectival predications. In order to gain a new perspective on their meaning, the relations between intensifiers, on the one hand, and demonstratives, exclamatives and comparative constructions, on the other, are analyzed and a semantic typology of comparative constructions is outlined and discussed in relation to the central hypothesis.
Keywords: intensifiers, comparison, demonstratives, exclamatives, semantic typology
Published online: 30 September 2017
De Cesare, Anna-Maria
Haspelmath, Martin & Buchholz, Oda
Ito, Rika & Tagliamonte, Sali
Kennedy, Christopher & McNally, Louise
Quirk, Randolph, Greenbaum, Sidney, Leech, Geoffrey & Svartvik, Jan
Cited by 3 other publications
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