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On-Going Change in English Modality: Emancipation Through Frequency


On-Going Change in English Modality: Emancipation Through Frequency The English modal expressions BE going to, HAVE got to, and want to are often contracted to gonna, gotta, and wanna in spoken language. These contracted forms have gained both in frequency and conventionality in recent times.

In this article, I present an investigation into the status of the contractions between phonetic reduction and lexicality. The contracted forms are observed to undergo a process of ›emancipation‹, that is, they move towards increasing conceptual independence from their source forms, with the most frequent one, gonna, leading the way. Emancipation is therefore construed as a frequency effect. The study is based on American English data, both from spontaneous spoken language and a diachronic corpus.

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Correspondence to David Lorenz.

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Lorenz, D. On-Going Change in English Modality: Emancipation Through Frequency. Z Literaturwiss Linguistik 43, 33–48 (2013).

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