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Asymmetrical trajectories: The past and present of –body/–one

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 September 2013

Alexandra D'Arcy
University of Victoria
Bill Haddican
Queens College-CUNY
Hazel Richards
University of York
Sali A. Tagliamonte
University of Toronto
Ann Taylor
University of York


The set of English [+human] pronominal quantifiers has been variable for at least 500 years, with the compound forms –body and –one competing since Middle and Early Modern English. This change has still to run its course (cf. Nevalainen & Raumolin-Brunberg, 2003:78). Using corpora of historical texts, we track the development of these variants alongside the demise of the earlier variant –man. Then, drawing on contemporary and regionally diverse corpora, we trace the continued development of –body/–one variation through the 20th century. The trajectories reveal paradigmatic leveling in the late 19th century and the rise of –one as the dominant form. However, grammatical, social, and lexical developments continue. Most striking is that after an initial phase of historical leveling, the different lexical quantifiers—any, every, some, no—go their own ways in the collection of varieties examined here, demonstrating that the mechanisms shaping evolutionary pathways across the globe are not only systemic, but also retain local alternations.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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