26 May – Christine Liebrecht

Metaphors as intensifying elements

Language intensity is a stylistic device to strengthen an evaluative utterance. Based on our corpus studies, there are many ways to intensify an evaluation. 70 percent of the intensifiers in written texts are so called one-word intensifiers, such as using adverbs (heel/very), adjectives (fantastisch/fantastic), typography (GOOD, !!!!), nouns (tsunami) and verbs (creperen/waste away). A third of the intensifiers consist of more than one word. Figures of speech were the most common multi-word intensifiers, with nearly half of the multi-word intensifiers falling into this category. Metaphorical language (such as het haasje zijn/left holding the bag) was the most frequent intensifying figure of speech, followed by the subcategory of repetition (heel, heel, heel/very, very, very). Intensifying elements differ in the degree to which an intensifier adds concrete and/or emotional information to an utterance. In my presentation, I will explore the semantics of intensifiers, with a specific focus on metaphors as one of the stylistic devices to strengthen evaluations.