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The Comment Clause in English
Syntactic Origins and Pragmatic Development


Part of Studies in English Language

  • Date Published: November 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521886734

£ 68.00

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About the Authors
  • 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 grammaticalisation, 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 syntactically indeterminate and are reanalysed 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.

    • Comprehensive treatment of comment clauses from a diachronic perspective
    • Examines a wide variety of comment clauses of different syntactic forms
    • Treats comment clauses in the broader perspective of pragmatic markers and grammaticalisation studies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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

    • Date Published: November 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521886734
    • length: 300 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.63kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: comment clauses, parentheticals, and pragmatic markers
    2. Semantic and syntactic development of pragmatic markers
    3. Processes of change
    4. Comment clauses with say
    5. I mean
    6. Comment clauses with see
    7. If you will and as it were
    8. Comment clauses with look
    9. What's more and what else
    10. Epistemic/evidential parentheticals - I gather and I find
    11. Concluding remarks.

  • Author

    Laurel J. Brinton, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

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