On the Rise and Diffusion of New Intensifiers: This and That in Some Asian Varieties of English

Abstract

The intensifiers this and that acquired their intensifying function as a result of a grammaticalization process by means of which deictic demonstratives became degree adverbs with the meaning “to this or that extent, so much, so.” The phenomenon spread in the early nineteenth century as a typical resource of spoken English, and since then these intensifiers have found a niche in the written domain by imposing a scalar construal on adjectives for which scale is not the default. Even though these intensifiers are observed in practically all the varieties of English around the world, they predominate in American English, with its use in all the other inner circle varieties lagging well behind. In the outer circle varieties, the construction is also subject to some geographical preferences. The present article has two objectives: to evaluate the role and distribution of this and that as intensifiers in selected Asian varieties of English and to analyze the lexicosemantic structure of their right-hand collocates in terms of word class and mode of construal. The study demonstrates, firstly, the existence of different stages of grammaticalization of this and that, the latter having a wider repertoire of collocates; and secondly, an ongoing process of colloquialization and Americanization of the phenomenon, which is contributing to its growing diffusion in the outer circle varieties of English. The evidence comes from the Indian, Hong Kong, Singaporean and Philippines components of the Corpus of Global Web-based English.

Author Biographies

Javier Calle-Martín, Universidad de Málaga
Javier Calle-Martín is Professor of English at the University of Málaga, where he teaches history of the English language. His research interests are historical linguistics, world Englishes and manuscript studies. He is the lead researcher of “The Malaga Corpus of Early English Scientific Prose,” which pursues the compilation of a tagged corpus of Early and Late Modern English scientific prose.
Juan Lorente-Sánchez, University of Málaga
Juan Lorente-Sánchez holds a BA in English Studies (2016) and an MA in English Studies, Multilingual and Intercultural Communication (2018), both from the University of Málaga. He is currently working on a PhD thesis dealing with the semidiplomatic edition of Glasgow University Library, MS Ferguson 7. His research interests are historical linguistics, world Englishes and manuscript studies.

References

Ashton, Neil, Anca Chereches and David Lutz, eds. 2011. Proceedings of the 21st Semantics and Linguistic Theory Conference (SALT 21). Linguistic Society of America.

Awonusi, Victor. 1994. “The Americanization of Nigerian English.” World Englishes 13 (1): 75-82.

Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo, David Denison and Richard M. Hogg et al., eds. 2011. Generative Theory and Corpus Studies: A Dialogue from 10 ICEHL (International Conference on English Historical Linguistics). Berlin: De Gruyter.

Bolinger, Dwight. 1972. Degree Words. Berlin: De Grutyer.

Bosch, Peter. 1983. Agreement and Anaphora: A Study of the Role of Pronouns in Syntax and Discourse. London: Academic.

Buchstaller, Isabelle and Elizabeth C. Traugott. 2006. “The Lady Was Al Demonyac: Historical Aspects of Adverb All.” English Language and Linguistics 10 (2): 345-70.

Calle-Martín, Javier. 2014. “On the History of the Intensifier Wonder in English.” Australian Journal of Linguistics 34 (3): 399-419.

—. 2019. “‘No Cat Could Be That Hungry!’ This/That as Intensifiers in American English.” Australian Journal of Linguistics 39 (2): 151-73.

Calle-Martín, Javier and Jesús Romero-Barranco. 2014. “On the Use of the Split Infinitive in the Asian Varieties of English.” Nordic Journal of English Studies 13 (1): 130-47.

Castroviejo-Miró, Elena. 2011. “‘So’ as a Weak Degree Expression.” In Ashton et al. 2011, 76-94.

Clark, Eve V. 2009. First Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Collins, Peter. 2009. “Modals and Quasi-Modals.” In Peters et al. 2009, 73-88.

—. 2013. “Grammatical Variation in English Worldwide: The Role of Colloquialization.” Linguistics and the Human Sciences 83 (3): 289-306.

—. 2015a. “Recent Diachronic Change in the Progressive in Philippine English.” In Collins 2015b, 271-96.

—, ed. 2015b. Grammatical Change in English World-Wide. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Coniglio, Marco et al., eds. 2018. Atypical Demonstratives: Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Davies, Mark. 2013. Corpus of Global Web-Based English. [Accessed May 10, 2012].

Diessel, Holger. 2006. “Demonstratives, Joint Attention and the Emergence of Grammar.” Cognitive Linguistics 17 (4): 463-89.

Fuchs, Robert. 2017. “The Americanisation of Philippine English: Recent Diachronic Change in Spelling and Lexis.” Philippine ESL Journal 19: 64-87.

Gargesh, Ravinder. 2006. “South Asian Englishes.” In Kachru et al. 2006, 90-113.

Garside, Roger. 1987. “The CLAWS Word-Tagging System.” In Garside, Leech and Sampson 1987, 30-41.

Garside, Roger, Geoffrey Leech and Geoffrey Sampson, eds. 1987. The Computational Analysis of English: A Corpus-Based Approach. London: Longman.

Garside, Roger and Paul Rayson. 1997. “Higher-Level Annotation Tools.” In Garside, Leech and Sampson 1997, 179-93.

Gergel, Remus. 2009. “Rather—On a Modal Cycle.” In van Gelderen 2009, 243-64.

—. 2016. “Modality and Gradation: Comparing the Sequel of Developments in ‘Rather’ and ‘Eher.’” In van Gelderen 2016, 319-50.

Ghesquière, Lobke and Freek van de Velde. 2011. “A Corpus-Based Account of the Development of English Such and Dutch Zulk: Identification, Intensification and (Inter)subjectification.” Cognitive Linguistics 22 (4): 765-97.

Gonçalves, Bruno et al. 2018. “Mapping the Americanization of English in Space and Time.” PloS ONE 13 (5): e0197741.

Hopper, Paul J. and Elizabeth C. Traugott. 2003. Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Hunt, Chester L. 1956. “The ‘Americanization’ Process in the Philippines.” India Quarterly 12 (2): 117-30.

Kachru, Braj B. 1985. “Standards, Codification and Sociolinguistic Realism: The English Language in the Outer Circle.” In Quirk and Widdowson 1985, 11-30.

—. 2005. Asian Englishes beyond the Canon. Hong Kong: Hong Kong UP.

Kachru, Braj B., Yamuna Kachru and Cecil L. Nelson, eds. 2006. The Handbook of World Englishes. Oxford: Blackwell.

Kirk, John, ed. 2000. Corpora Galore: Analysis and Techniques in Describing English. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.

König, Ekkehard and Carla Umbach. 2018. “Demonstratives of Manner, of Quality and of Degree: A Neglected Subclass.” In Coniglio et al. 2018, 285-327.

Leech, Geoffrey et al. 2009. Change in Contemporary English: A Grammatical Study. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Mair, Christian. 2006. Twentieth-Century English: History, Variation and Standardization. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Mazzon, Gabriella, ed. 2007. Studies in Middle English Forms and Meanings. Bern: Peter Lang.

Méndez-Naya, Belén. 2007. “‘He Nas Nat Right Fat’: On the Origin and Development of the Intensifier Right.” In Mazzon 2007, 191-208.

Mesthrie, Rajend and Rakesj M. Bhatt. 2008. World Englishes: The Study of New Linguistic Varieties. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Modiano, Marko. 1996. “The Americanization of Euro-English.” World Englishes 15 (2): 207-15.

Oxford English Dictionary Online. 2000a. s. v. “This.” [Accessed April 15, 2020].

Oxford English Dictionary Online. 2000b. s. v. “That.” [Accessed April 15, 2020].

Oxford English Dictionary Online. 2000c. s. v. “Close.” [Accessed April 15, 2020].

Paradis, Carita. 2000. “It’s Well Weird: Degree Modifiers of Adjectives Revisited: The Nineties.” In Kirk 2000, 147-60.

—. 2001. “Adjectives and Boundedness.” Cognitive Linguistics 12 (1): 47-65.

—. 2008. “Configurations, Construals and Change: Expressions of Degree.” English Language and Linguistics 12 (2): 317-43.

—. 2011. “Reinforcing Adjectives: A Cognitive Semantic Perspective on Grammaticalization.” In Bermúdez-Otero, Denison and Hogg 2011, 233-58.

Peters, Pam, Peter Collins and Adam Smith, eds. 2009. Comparative Studies in Australia and New Zealand English: Grammar and Beyond. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Quirk, Randolph and Henry Widdowson, eds. 1985. English in the World: Teaching and Learning the Language and Literatures. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Rissanen, Matti. 2008. “From ‘Quickly’ to ‘Fairly’: On the History of Rather.” English Language and Linguistics 12 (2): 345-59.

Saijala, Pingali. 2009. Dialects of English: Indian English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.

Schneider, Edgar W. 2007. Postcolonial English: Varieties around the World. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Sedlatschek, Andreas. 2009. Contemporary Indian English: Variation and Change. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Seoane, Elena. 2017. “Modelling Morphosyntactic Variation in World Englishes from a Register Perspective.” Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies 55: 109-33.

Seoane, Elena and Cristina Suárez-Gómez. 2013. “The Expression of the Perfect in East and South-East Asian Englishes.” English World-Wide 34 (1): 1-25.

Setter, Jane, Cathy S. P. Wong and Brian H. S. Chan. 2010. Dialects of English: Hong Kong English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.

Tagliamonte, Sali A. 2006. “‘So Cool, Right?’ Canadian English Entering the 21st Century.” Canadian Journal of Linguistics 51 (2): 309-31.

—. 2008. “So Different and Pretty Cool! Recycling Intensifiers in Toronto, Canada.” English Language and Linguistics 12 (2): 361-94.

Tagliamonte, Sali A. and Chris Roberts. 2005. “So Weird; So Cool; So Innovative: The Use of Intensifiers in the Television Series Friends.” American Speech 80 (3): 280-300.

Umbach, Carla and Cornelia Ebert. 2009. “German Demonstrative So—Intensifying and Hedging Effects.” Sprache & Datenverarbeitung 33 (2): 153-68.

Van Gelderen, Elly, ed. 2009. Cyclical Change. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

—. 2016, ed. The Linguistic Cycle Continued. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

West, Donna E. 2014. Deictic Imaginings: Semiosis at Work and at Play. Bern: Springer.

Published
2021-12-23
Section
Articles

Funding data