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So different and pretty cool! Recycling intensifiers in Toronto, Canada1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2008

SALI A. TAGLIAMONTE*
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics, University of Toronto, 130 St George Street, Robarts Library, 6th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 3H1, sali.tagliamonte@utoronto.ca

Abstract

This article presents a synchronic quantitative study of the intensifier system in Toronto, the largest urban centre in Canada. The data comprise nearly 10,000 adjectival heads, as in I was so hungry and I was getting really nauseous (TOR/2m). The distribution of intensifiers in apparent time provides startling evidence of change. Very is quickly moving out of favour and really has expanded dramatically. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that other intensifiers are on the rise – so and pretty. Testing a series of contextual factors known to operate in the development of intensifiers (e.g. adjective function and type) as well as their intersection with social factors (e.g. age and sex) reveals evidence of ongoing delexicalization, but not as part of a continual longitudinal process. Instead, the profile of change reveals recycling, suggesting that the mechanisms of intensifier renewal may be more complex than previously thought.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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