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A DIACHRONIC CORPUS STUDY ON INTENSIFIERS IN AMERI

日期:2020-08-28 21:14 作者:上海论文网 编辑:若诗 点击次数:180
销售价格:300 论文编号:el2020082512093320742 论文字数:12951 所属栏目:英语论文
论文地区:中国 论文语种:English 论文用途:硕士毕业论文 Master Thesis

本文是英语论文,This thesis has looked into intensifier use in American TV shows and more specifically the effects of time on the choice and frequency of intensifiers in materials drawn from scripts and subtitles. The study has allowed a glimp

本文是英语论文,In only thirty-five years’time the traditional intensifier very loses much of its popularity to other variants, although surviving in the top three, at least for now. At the same time the variants so, really, and too increase in frequency to compete with very. Specially so, which showed a tremendous rise. Its increase in frequency quintuplicate from the first to the last corpora, moving from the second place to the first leaving very really behind. This kind of pattern is not as clear for any other form, which supports the interpretation of so as a new predilect intensifier. As a conclusion, it seems more likely that very and too will be able to retain their competitive spot against so in the future better than the once trendy really or real which both decrease hugely in frequency in TV language use in the corpora. In order to compare the patterns and validate these claims, future study would need actual spontaneous spoken recorded American English data with demographic factors of the speakers carefully recorded. 

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Chapter 1: Introduction

 

There are numerous ways to emphasize or stress what one is saying. One of these measures is to use adverbs that give special emphasis to what one is trying to convey. These adverbs are called intensifiers, such words as so, extremely, very, real and many others. Intensifiers also called degree modifiers or degree words, are an interesting topic to study based on two features, firstly, because of their flexibility and color, and secondly, because of their capacity for fast change and recycling of forms (Ito and Tagliamonte 2003; 258). It has also been siad by Barnfield and Buchstaller that the use of intensifiers seems to be on the rise across time (2010; 261). This is another reason to study their use and makes the topic more contemporary. For this thesis, the analysis of intensifiers will be restricted only to adjectival heads as it is by far the most common position in which intensifiers happen (Bäcklund 1973; 279). Spoken language provides a great way to study language variation as language change is enabled by linguistic innovations, individual uses that may become part of the linguistic system (Milroy and Milroy 1997; 51). Milroy and Milroy (1997; 52) comment: “Sometimes change is rapid and sometimes it is slow, but there is no reason to believe that there can ever be a time when a spoken language is completely stable”. Certainly, it has been demonstrated in previous studies that there is variation and change in the use of intensifiers. Variation is apparent across time and between social groupings and even changes in progress have been found (Ito and Tagliamonte 2003, Tagliamonte and Roberts 2005 and Barnfield and Buchstaller 2010). In the last decades, computerized corpora have allowed to perform research about intensifiers and linguistic patterns of grammaticalization in great numbers of texts. 
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Chapter 2: Literature Review

 

 2.1 Definition of Intensifiers 
In this thesis, the term intensifier is used to refer to adverbs that function as modifiers of other words by boosting or maximizing their meaning. Even though there are some intensifiers that can modify nouns, particles, prepositions, other adverbs and verbs (Quirk et al. 1985; 448-450; Biber et al. 1999; 546, 548, 554), the concentration here is on those which modify adjectives. Several studies suggest (Rickford et al. 2007; Tagliamonte 2011) that intensifiers occur most frequently, some of them, 80 percent of the time, with adjectival heads. Consequently, many previous studies have also concentrated on intensifiers modifying adjectives. Intensification can happen with a diversity of different heads, including adjectives, nouns, finite verbs, participles as well as adverbs, and as such intensifiers include a very varied category (Barnfield and Buchstaller 2010; 257). The use of degree words in connection with adjectival heads is, according to many scholars, often the most favored position (Quirk et al. 1972; 276; see e.g. Rickford et al. (2007), Macaulay (2002), Bäcklund (1973)). This is also why this study will only consider the adjective pre-modifying position. Traditionally, social variables, such as age, gender, and social class, have been taken into account to analyze intensifier use within one and the same variant of English. This thesis will focus its attention to how time can make these words change in frequency and will search these variations on the use of five different intensifiers in American Sitcoms in order to discover how they have changed through time in the last decades. A diachronic corpus-based methodology allows us to explore these intensifiers in detail. As Stoffel explains,“of certain classes of adverbs the sense is constantly becoming weaker and less emphatic, so that others have to take their place where completeness of quality has to be expressed”(1901; 2). For instance, the intensifier, very, of which the lexical meaning has completely faded away due to the complete process of grammaticalization of the intensifier which seems to be the new fashionable stressing adverb. 
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2.2 Labeling 
The definition of an intensifier changes from researcher to researcher, as no unified terminology has widely been accepted. Intensifiers, degree words or degree modifiers, as they are also known as, serve to “convey the degree or the exact value of the quality expressed by the item they modify” (Méndez-Naya 2008; 213). Degree adverbs are frequently separated into two classes – intensives and downtoners (see e.g. Stoffel (1901)). A number of terms have been used to refer to these linguistic elements by different scholars, and not all differentiate among the two. For instance, Bäcklund (1973; 7) calls them “adverbs of degree” and Bolinger (1972; 18) uses the term “degree words”. The term ‘degree ’is regularly used in connection with this linguistic phenomenon because this type of words is often said to modify gradable adjectives and to indicate different degrees of intensification on an imaginary scale. (Biber et al. 1999; 554; Quirk et al. 1985; 589). Numerous books on grammar show somewhat different understandings on the classification of degree adverbs, which will be discussed below. However, in the case when quite modifies adjectives such as confident, which can function either as a gradable or a non-gradable adjective (5), it is often not possible to separate the senses. Biber et al. (1999; 552) mentioned that just is comparable in the way that it can either increase or decrease the intensity of the modified item. Even though pretty is in most cases in Table 1 listed as a downtoner, The Oxford English Dictionary (s.v. pretty adv.) describes the adverb pretty as “Qualifying an adjective or adverb. Different kind of ambiguity arises with really, since it can be interpreted as a stance adverb expressing ‘in reality ’(6a.) or an amplifier (6b.) (Biber et al. 1999; 858), and often even the context does not help in deciding between the senses. In this thesis, it is decided that if such cases are encountered, they will be interpreted as amplifiers for the benefit of the analysis. Really cannot be omitted from the analysis altogether, as in previous studies it is found to be one of the most central intensifiers in English (Ito and Tagliamonte 2003). 

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Chapter 3: Methodology .......................................................................................... 30 
3.1 Corpora and Methods ......................................................................................... 30 
3.2 Breakdown of Methods ...................................................................................... 32 
3.3 Collocation with Adjectives ............................................................................... 33 
3.4 Selection of Intensifiers: Justification ................................................................ 33 
3.5 TV Series Corpora .............................................................................................. 36 
3.6 Research Questions ............................................................................................ 36 
Chapter 4: Corpus Data Analysis............................................................................ 37 
4.1 Cheers Corpus .................................................................................................... 37 
4.2 Friends Corpus ................................................................................................... 39 
4.3 Modern Family Corpus ...................................................................................... 40 
4.4 Frequency of Adjectives per Intensifier ............................................................. 42 
Chapter 5: Conclusion .............................................................................................. 59 

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Chapter 4: Corpus Data Analysis 

 

4.1 Cheers Corpus 
As has been noted earlier, the data in the Cheers Corpus (1982 -1990) used here consists of direct extraction of the dialogues from the scripts from the TV show. The total number of words included in this section is 532,930. All frequencies have been normalized by 100,000. The total number of applicable tokens in the data set is 1596, with a normalized total frequency of 309.81. Very has been used as an intensifier since the 16th century, and has outlived various other intensifiers. Several scholars consider it to be the most frequent of all intensifiers (Bäcklund (1973; 158); Fries (1940; 201); Biber et al. (1999; 565, 7); Ito and Tagliamonte (2003; 266)), but it has also shown a great deal of decline among the younger generations (Ito and Tagliamonte 2003; 267). Surprisingly, the difference between very and so is not a very drastic one, and therefore it is likely that so is also gaining popularity. In this data this intensifier takes a 29 percent followed by the intensifier too with a 20 percent. Finally, the intensifiers with the least frequency are really and real. Really only reached 11 percent and real with the lowest frequency only reached 5 percent. 

 

4.2 Friends Corpus
The data in the Friends Corpus (1994 - 2002) used here consists of direct extraction of the dialogues from the subtitles of the TV show, giving it a very authentic look into American English. The total number of words included in this section is 463,607. All frequencies have been normalized by 100,000. The total number of applicable tokens in the data set is 2368, with a normalized total frequency of 511.45. Table 5 shows the total distribution of all intensifiers studied here. The top three is occupied by so, really and very, but the frequency of so is over three times as great as the frequency of really, and almost twice as high as the next three most popular intensifiers combined. The popularity of so is striking, and a definite signal that the usage of this intensifier is gaining so much popularity in American English. The differences among the first and the second place is more than 37 percent, appearing that so has become the 20th century favorite for Americans as suggested by Tagliamonte and Roberts (2005; 296), closely followed by really and then very. Tagliamonte (2008; 369) notes that in Toronto very was “declining rapidly” and goes as far as to say that it is an outgoing form altogether (2008; 382). In contrast, however, Rickford et al.’s (2007; 10) 2005 study on the Stanford Tape Recorded Corpus listed really as the most popular intensifier (relative frequency of 52,3) followed by so and very, whereas here, really is only the third most popular intensifier. As a real surprise, the intensifier very was not in first place, not even in the second place in these corpora. According to Fries (1940; 201) very was “the most frequently used function word of degree” in Am E in the 1940s, but this view was contested by Labov (1984; 44) in the 1980s with the statement that really is “one of the most frequent markers of intensity in colloquial conversation”. According to them, the change in popularity appears to have shifted from very to really over that time period, which is also true in these corpora but both being overcome by so. 

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Chapter 5: Conclusion 
The study of intensifiers in different varieties of English is therefore worthwhile and may reveal new and innovative patterns. Real spontaneous conversations may differ slightly from the findings of this study, but as shown in this thesis, conversations, expressions and scripted dialogs on TV shows may reflect the tendency of spoken language and therefore provide cumulative data for the study of different linguistic features and language changes. Extracting data from the Internet is more efficient and easier than in the past, and could in future studies be used for collecting longitudinal data in longer stretches of time. Perhaps further studies are also able to find Internet data with more clearly defined speaker demographics, to have a clearer idea of intensifiers behavior in the language. 
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