Adverbs of degree form an intriguing part of the lexicon: numerous, multiform and everchanging. They also show a great variety in distribution. In this study, the characteristics of adverbs of degree are investigated from a semantic point of view. The main focus is on Dutch, but previous studies about English and German adverbs of degree are used to compare with and to build on. The book starts with an introduction on grading and gradability, and a classification of the adverbs according to the degree they express. Next, the different lexical sources from which the adverbs emerge and the process of grammaticalization are discussed. The main part of the book is devoted to semantic restrictions on the use of adverbs of degree, on the one hand restrictions concerning the modified elements, on the other hand those concerning the environment. Topics include absoluteness versus gradability, positive versus negative evaluation, the strengthening of negation, polarity sensitivity, the logical properties of the adverbs themselves, and restrictions to reduplication and stacking.
Besides the main text, three case studies are presented in which the pecularities of some of the adverbs are investigated in depth, to show more in detail to complexities of their distribution. The appendix gives an overview of Dutch adverbs of degree.
1. Preface; 2. Introduction; 3. Grading, Gradability and Degrees; 4. The Origin of Adverbs of Degree; 5. Semantic Restrictionson the Use of Adverbs of Degree; 6. To conclude; 7. Case study 1: Vrijwel and Nauwelijks: the negative side of the absolute; 8. Case study 2:Bar and Bijster two polarity sensitive adverds; 9. Case sutdy 3: Noemenswaardig and Nennenswert: a comparison; 10. Notes; 11. Appendix of Dutch Adverbs of Degree; 12. References; 13. Name Index; 14. Subject Index