Thesis

Grammaticalization in English : a diachronic and synchronic analysis of the "ass" intensifier

Grammaticalization theory is used to analyze language change cross-linguistically and in historical linguistics as lexical items move from open class content to closed class functional words. With natural language as the data, this analytic framework is used to perform a diachronic and synchronic analysis of “ass”—which has grammaticalized in colloquial American English into an intensifying clitic. The diachronic analysis focuses on the linguistic shifts “ass” underwent as a result of polysemy, metonymy, syntactic reanalysis and decategorialization, semantic bleaching, and pragmatic influences. The synchronic analysis is performed in lieu of the historical shifts to explicate descriptively the parameters for grammatical usage in contemporary language performance, focusing on the topics of syntax, semantics, phonology, and morphology.

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