The Comment Clause in English: Syntactic Origins and Pragmatic Development

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Overview

Although English comment clauses such as I think and you know have been widely studied, this book constitutes the first full-length diachronic treatment, focusing on comment clauses formed with common verbs of perception and cognition in a variety of syntactic forms. It understands comment clauses as causal pragmatic markers that undergo grammaticalization, and acquire pragmatic and politeness functions and subjective and intersubjective meanings. To date, the prevailing view of their syntactic development, which is extrapolated from synchronic studies, is that they originate in matrix clauses which become systematically indeterminate and are reanalyzed as parenthetical. In this corpus-based study, Laurel J. Brinton shows that the historical data do not bear out this view, and proposes a more varied and complex conception of the development of comment clauses. Researchers and students of the English language and historical linguistics will certainly consider Brinton's findings to be of great interest.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Although the outlines of all case studies look similar, they are variable enough to allow for the individual history and function of each discussed item. The organization of each chapter leads to the derivation that is proposed. The analyses are carefully conducted and easy to understand. No proposed derivation remains unclear. ... In sum, it is an impressive and excellent study of the derivation of comment clauses. ... I can recommend this book to all linguists ...' The Linguist List
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521886734
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/31/2008
  • Series: Studies in English Language Series
  • Pages: 298
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurel J. Brinton is Professor of English Language at the University of British Columbia.
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Table of Contents

1 Introduction : comment clauses, parentheticals, and pragmatic markers 1

2 Semantic and syntactic development of pragmatic markers 24

3 Processes of change 49

4 Comment clauses with say 73

5 I mean 111

6 Comment clauses with see 133

7 If you will and as it were 162

8 Comment clauses with look 184

9 What's more and what else 203

10 Epistemic/evidential parentheticals - I gather and I find 219

11 Concluding remarks 240

References 257

Author index 275

Subject index 278

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