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Reflexivity and Intensification in English

A Study of Texts and Contexts


Claudia Lange

Present-Day English is unique among the Germanic languages in employing the same forms ( himself, herself etc.) both as reflexive pronoun and intensifier. While a lot of attention has been directed at the grammaticalization of the compound reflexive, the emergence of the compound intensifier has remained largely mysterious. This study is a detailed investigation of the domains of reflexivity and intensification throughout the history of English. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the possible source contexts for SELF-forms in Old and Middle English. Backed up with a wide range of data from early Middle English, the compound intensifier is traced to discourse-pragmatic motivations: expressive strategies linked to specific discourse traditions become rapidly grammaticalized once the former Old English standard gave way to large-scale variation in Middle English.

BIC Classifications

  • Language (C)
    • linguistics (CF)
      • Historical & comparative linguistics (CFF)
  • Literature & literary studies (D)
    • Literature: history & criticism (DS)
      • Literary studies: general (DSB)
        • Literary studies: from c 1900 - (DSBH)

BISAC Classifications

  • Foreign Language Study (FOR)
    • FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY / English as a Second Language (FOR007000)
  • Language Arts & Disciplines (LAN)
    • LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General (LAN009000)

THEMA Classifications

  • Language & Linguistics (C)
    • Linguistics (CF)
      • Historical & comparative linguistics (CFF)
  • Language qualifiers (2)
    • Indo-European languages (2A)
      • Germanic & Scandinavian languages (2AC)
        • English (2ACB)