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Title Semantic prosody and intensifier variation in academic speech
Publication Date
Date Available
Date Accessioned
Degree MA
Discipline/Department Linguistics
Degree Level masters
University/Publisher University of Georgia
Abstract The study of English intensifiers has been of interest in sociolinguistic research. This paper analyzes the variation of common intensifiers very and really in a corpus of Academic English and the language-internal and –external factors that predict this variation. All factors are related to a speaker’s evaluation, specifically to the semantic notion of positive, negative, or neutral prosody. Using a variationst approach, this paper furthers insight to the grammaticalization of intensifiers and how the effect of delexicalization can predict the semantic properties of a modified adjective. The significant factors predicting very/really variation were academic setting, semantic prosody, academic discipline, and gender. The study further develops a methodological framework for operationalizing semantic prosody and producing quantitative results. A second analysis concerning the distinctions between other modifiers, namely reinforcers and attenuators, are also analyzed in the academic corpus. Finally, the paper discusses its support for the use of smaller corpora to examine and compare linguistic effects in more specific registers.
Subjects/Keywords semantic prosody
Contributors Lewis Howe
Language en
Rights public
Country of Publication us
Record ID oai:ugakr.libs.uga.edu:10724/28146
Repository uga
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2016-12-30
Note [degree] MA; [department] Linguistics Program; [major] Linguistics; [advisor] Lewis Howe; [committee] Lewis Howe;

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…44 vii LIST OF FIGURES Page Figure 1: Very/really as percentage of academic setting .............................................................. 31 Figure 2: Very/really as percentage of semantic prosody

…Figure 5: Adjective Modifiers and Collocating Semantic Prosody .............................................. 40 Figure 6: Google Book NGram Viewer: very and really from 1800-2000 (Google Books Ngram Viewer, 2012)…

prosody. Most research on semantic prosody concerns corpus studies of collocation. The current study adds a variationist analysis and interpretation explaining that an adjective’s semantic prosody can predict which intensifier is its 1 modifier. This…

…s semantic prosody. Using a solely impressionistic approach, researcher judgments can cause errors labeling whether an adjective is emotional or neutral, positive or negative. With a test based on the lexical properties of the target adjectives, I…

…combine the study of lexical semantics with quantitative variation to create a framework for better methodology of identifying semantic prosody. This analysis first looks at the variation between the most common intensifiers, very and really. This study…

…that certain factors favor the use of really over very in particular social and linguistic environments. Using the methodology for determining semantic prosody, this study also discusses which type of semantic prosody favors which intensifier. Chapter 5…

…intensifiers and their uses in speech. It will then discuss previous corpus work on semantic prosody and how the prosody of a word can be related to its lexical meaning and semantic extension. The first analysis involves the variation of the most frequently…

…and analyze adjective modifiers in Academic Speech, primarily focusing on the variation between really and very, and second, to provide a 3 methodological framework for operationalizing semantic prosody as a predictive factor and producing…