Intersubjectivity and the diachronic development of counterfactual almost
Former studies have attributed little attention to the historical factors surrounding the development of counterfactual meanings in almost, though some refer to evidence of expletive negation found in proximatives crosslinguistically. In this study, the historical development of the adverb will be considered in investigating more recent data from Late Modern English, in which an overwhelming number of counterfactual uses appear with a complement referring to undesirable events, some even hyperbolic in nature. It is hypothesised that the presence of intersubjectivity contributed significantly to the development of counterfactual meanings, in focusing attention on the aversion of, rather than the proximity to, the event described in the complement. Intersubjectivity also explains the evidence of expletive negation in proximatives in other languages though this is not attested in the history of English almost.
Keywords: expletive negation, intersubjectivity, proximative adverbs, counterfactuality
Published online: 16 June 2016
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