I’m so sorry: Intensification in American English across time

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Although frequently decried, language change is pervasive. This lesson aims at encouraging an awareness of the pervasiveness of language change and an openness for future change and innovation in language. The lesson focuses on changes in intensifier use in apology realisations in American English over time. Intensifiers are adverbs like sincerely and deeply, which maximize the meaning of the adjective or verb they precede. In apologies, they serve to increase the linguistic politeness communicated by the speaker. In this lesson, we examine the intensifiers used most frequently with sorry in the Corpus of Contemporary American English in two time periods – 1990–1994 and 2015–2017. This contrast provides students with a recent example of language change and challenges concepts which student teachers and their students may have of a fixed and rigid language.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching English with corpora : A resource book
EditorsVander Viana
Number of pages5
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group (GB)
Publication date2023
Pages188-192
Article number37
ISBN (Print)978-1-032-25299-5, 978-1-032-25297-1
ISBN (Electronic)|978-1-032-25300-8
Publication statusPublished - 2023