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The superlative in spoken English

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Chapter Summary

The paper deals with the use of the superlative degree in spoken British English on the basis of the demographic part of the British National Corpus. The aspects investigated include the distribution of the morphological types (inflectional vs. periphrastic), the types of adjectives used in this construction and the syntax of the superlative (attributive, predicative and nominal use; determiner usage). Special attention is being paid to the semantics (relative, absolute, intensifying meanings) and the corresponding functions of the superlative, where it is noticeable that absolute and intensifying readings are much more common than expectable from the extant literature. Together with the usage of generalising modification structures, this points to the conclusion that the superlative may be less a means of factual comparison than rather a means for (often vague) evaluation and the expression of emotion.

10.1163/9789401204347_009
/content/books/b9789401204347s009
dcterms_subject,pub_keyword
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