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A comparative study of the grammaticalized uses of English "sort (of)" and French "genre (de)" in teenage forum data

Book Contribution - Chapter

This paper sets out to capture language change at its forefront by studying specific data, teenage forum posts, expected to be innovative for many reasons. These data are speech-like, informal exchanges between peers, that is, they have the situational features that most promote change. Moreover, they represent communication from the most innovative age group of language users, teenagers, on the linguistically non-prescriptive Internet. Importantly, innovation does not entail absence of functional-structural patterns. The topic that we will investigate is the grammaticalization of English sort of and French genre de, as reflected in the synchronic layering of the different constructions they occur in without their full lexical value. Within the grammaticalized constructions, a distinction is made between intra-NP uses, in which sort of and genre (de) fulfil a function in NP structure, and extra-NP uses in which they serve adverbial, particle and quotative functions. While there is striking functional equivalence between most of these uses in English and French, there are also some differences due to the distinct syntax of the source constructions.
Book: Studi e Ricerche
Pages: 41 - 66