The Meaning of Utterance-Final Even
Min-Joo Kim, Nathan Jahnke
February 2021
 

This article takes up a relatively understudied phenomenon in English wherein the additive scalar focus particle "even" (EVEN) occurs following its focus, typically in utterance-final (UF) position. We show that this UF incarnation of EVEN is not a simple variant of its pre-focal (PF) counterpart. Four distinct functions of UF-EVEN are identified: (i) the mirative, (ii) the elaborative, (iii) the simple additive, and (iv) the simple corrective. Building on Traugott’s theory of semantic change (e.g., Traugott & Dasher 2002; Traugott 2006), we present an analysis that outlines the developmental path of UF-EVEN: all its functions are claimed to originate from PF-EVEN’s meaning although some are less directly related to it. In addition, it is demonstrated that UF-EVEN shares some of its developmental paths with discourse markers like "actually" and "in fact", suggesting that it has taken on the function of a sentential adverb. What is discussed here will have repercussions for the theory of lexical meaning change and its conventionalization.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002781
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: In 2011; Journal of English Linguistics 39(1): 36-64
keywords: additive scalar focus particle, mirative, lexical meaning change, implicature, syntactic position, semantics, syntax
previous versions: v2 [February 2021]
v1 [August 2010]
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