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‘Ye whom the charms of grammar please’

Studies in English Language History in Honour of Leiv Egil Breivik


Edited By Kari Haugland, Kevin McCafferty and Kristian A. Rusten

This collection of articles by colleagues and students of Leiv Egil Breivik presents studies within both core and peripheral areas of English historical linguistics. Core topics covered include the development of existential there and related phenomena, word order, the evolution of adverbials, null subjects from Old to Early Modern English, pragmatics and information structure and aspects of discourse. Contributors also address the emergence of new syntactic constructions in the past and present, language contact and aspects of style in Early Modern English letters and medical texts. The ideological discourses of children’s dictionaries and medieval letters of defence are also explored.
The essays are all empirical studies, based on a wide range of corpora (both historical and contemporary) and applying theoretical approaches informed by Systemic-Functional Grammar, grammaticalization theory, dependency grammar, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and corpus linguistic methods. Issues of methodology, statistics and corpus construction and annotation are also addressed in several contributions.
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Toril Swan: Hopefully: The evolution of a sentence adverbial


← 98 | 99 → TORIL SWAN

Hopefully: The evolution of a sentence adverbial1

1 Introduction

The present paper is a study of the adverb (sentence adverbial) hopefully, as in (1), which it is assumed is related to and indeed derived from a narrow-scope adverbial (manner adverbial) hopefully (2).


Hopefully she will survive.


He looked longingly and hopefully at her.

As has been shown for instance in Swan (1988, 1991, 2007) and Swan and Breivik (2011), English sentence adverbials (-ly adverbs) have developed from narrow-scope adverbials such as manner adverbials in the history of English. Specifically such adverbials as fortunately, naturally and wisely can be considered to be grammaticalizations of what have been called speaker comments. Hopefully is, however, one among a set of more recently developed sentence adverbials, and curiously, this adverb has been singled out and criticized, and is often described negatively as ‘American’. The adverb, it is claimed, means ‘with hope’ and should only be used properly in sentences such as The dog looked hopefully at the bone; the sentence adverbial meaning – ‘It is hoped that/I hope that’ – is ← 99 | 100 → described as incorrect, an Americanism, etc. Whitley (1983) provides an interesting survey of the most important attacks on hopefully (see also Section 2.2 below).

The present paper will analyse the development of hopefully in American English and show its evolution as a sentence adverbial. While there have been longitudinal...

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