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Intensifiers: Meaning and Distribution

Constantinou, H; (2014) Intensifiers: Meaning and Distribution. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This monograph explores the meaning and distribution of intensifiers (otherwise referred to as emphatic reflexives). Intensifiers are invariably stressed and anaphorically dependent on a nominal antecedent. Their use induces alternatives, an indication that their prosodic prominence results from some sort of information-structural marking. An intensifier can adjoin directly to its antecedent or to some clausal projection. The first part of the monograph is concerned with the meaning of intensifiers. Depending on its distribution, an intensifier may take up to three radically different readings; adnominal, inclusive or exclusive. I first suggest that the common characteristic of the three readings is that they require the antecedent to be central against the induced alternative referents. Their interpretive differences lie in that the antecedent must be central in a different way. The rest of the meaning characteristics of each reading fall out from this basic variation. I discuss how syntax, semantics, information structure, general principles of the grammar (e.g. the Elsewhere condition) and extra-linguistic factors conspire to deliver these effects. The second part of this monograph focuses on the distribution of the intensifier. I establish that the intensifier forms a syntactic dependency with its antecedent and propose a particular characterization of the relevant dependency that renders it quite similar to a binding relation. The final contribution of the thesis is concerned with the largely novel observation that the information-structural marking of the intensifier restricts its positioning with respect to other quantificational and information-structurally marked categories. I provide an account for the observed interactions in terms of an independently motivated condition of scope shift. The thesis is mainly based on data from English and Dutch.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Intensifiers: Meaning and Distribution
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Intensifiers, Emphatic Reflexives, Information Structure, Identity Function, Syntactic dependencies, Focus, Topic, Contrast, Quantificational categories, English, Dutch
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1431321
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