Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info


New from Oxford University Press!

ad

Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing

By Melissa Mohr

Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing "contains original research into the history of swearing, and is scrupulous in analyzing the claims of other scholars."


New from Cambridge University Press!

ad

A New Manual of French Composition

By R. L. Graeme Ritchie

A New Manual of French Composition "provides a guide to French composition aimed at university students and the higher classes in schools. "


The LINGUIST List is dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world. LINGUIST is a free resource, run by linguistics students and faculty, and supported primarily by your donations. Please support LINGUIST List during the 2016 Fund Drive.

Academic Paper


Title: Just for the hell of it: A comparison of two taboo-term constructions
Author: Jack Hoeksema
Institution: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Author: Donna Jo Napoli
Institution: Swarthmore College
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics; Semantics; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: The two English constructions exemplified in 'Let's get the hell out of here' (type G) and 'They beat the hell out of him' (type B) differ both syntactically and semantically, but in both the taboo expression has the force of an intensifier. History (through a corpus investigation) reveals that the B-construction started as a literal exorcism (beat the devil out of someone), where the hell substituted for the devil, and semantic bleaching ultimately made the literal sense give way to simple emphasis, with any taboo term jumping in. The G-construction may have developed simultaneously, always as an intensifier – or, perhaps, later, on analogy with B. Our analysis suggests that the use of taboo terms as intensifiers spread from wh-constructions to these constructions and, finally, to degree intensifier constructions. These two uses of taboo terms as intensifiers are best characterized in terms of constructions and thus offer evidence against theories lacking any notion of constructions as basic building blocks. Further, they give us information about language change: a pragmatically unified but semantically disparate class of expressions (namely, taboo terms) can extend its distribution in parallel.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 44, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page