Configurations, construals and change: Expressions of DEGREE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article challenges the widespread view that DEGREE is a grammatical phenomenon characteristic of certain types of word classes and, instead, argues that DEGREE is pervasive in language and may be associated with most meanings. The main aim of the article is to discuss the results of a number of corpus investigations and experiments of DEGREE meanings in general and of the modification of DEGREE in particular, and to accommodate these results in a general and dynamic model of Lexical Meaning as Ontologies and
Construals (LOC; Paradis 2005). The claims are that (i) DEGREE is a BOUNDEDNESS configuration in conceptual space; (ii) DEGREE modifiers operate on the DEGREE structure of the meanings to which they apply through a construal of contextually motivated zone activation within conventionalized senses; (iii) nonconventionalized DEGREE readings of form–meaning pairings are invoked through implication by means of construals of metonymization between senses; and (iv) this process ofmetonymization is the mechanism
through which change may or may not take place.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • ontology, adverb, gradability, cognitive
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-343
JournalEnglish Language and Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch

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