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Politeness-induced semantic change: The case of quand même

Beeching, Kate

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Authors

Kate Beeching Kate.Beeching@uwe.ac.uk
Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics



Abstract

This article contributes to a growing body of theory that posits language-external, social factors as a primary motor in diachronic change. Politeness theory and the use of variationist approaches enable us to posit, and test, the hypothesis of a type of pragmaticalization, which I call Politeness-Induced Semantic Change (PISC). Historical data on quand même are presented that give tentative credence to such a model. Moeschler and de Spengler's (1981) and Waltereit's (2001) speech-act theoretic analyses of quand même are reinterpreted within the framework of politeness theory and sociopragmatics. The ensuing corpus investigation of the grammaticalization and pragmatico-semantic evolution of quand même from 1500-2000 highlights the fact that not only the innovation but also the propagation of a new form-function configuration depend on social factors; politeness theory may have explanatory power in capturing the ever-changing social patterning of linguistic features and the conditions that favor the spread of innovation. © 2005 Cambridge University Press.

Citation

Beeching, K. (2005). Politeness-induced semantic change: The case of quand même. Language Variation and Change, 17(2), 155-180. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394505050076

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 1, 2005
Deposit Date Jan 22, 2010
Publicly Available Date Apr 30, 2016
Journal Language Variation and Change
Print ISSN 0954-3945
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 155-180
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394505050076
Keywords politeness, semantic change, quand même
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/1049751
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0954394505050076
Additional Information Additional Information : This paper contributes to a growing body of theory which posits language-external, social, factors as a primary motor in diachronic change. Politeness theory and the use of variationist approaches enable us to posit, and test, the hypothesis of a type of pragmaticalisation which the author calls Politeness-induced Semantic Change (PISC): historical data on quand même are presented which give tentative credence to such a model. Moeschler and de Spengler's (1981) and Waltereit's (2001) speech-act theoretic analyses of quand même are reinterpreted within the framework of politeness theory and sociopragmatics. The ensuing corpus investigation of the grammaticalisation and pragmatico-semantic evolution of quand même from 1500-2000 highlights the fact that not only the innovation but also the propagation of a new form-function configuration depend on social factors. The article breaks new ground in adopting a corpus and variationist approach to both historical and contemporary data and in tracing the evolution of the senses of a term, using empirical and quantitative methods.

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