The interpersonal function of going to in written American English

in Corpus Linguistics
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Abstract

The spread of going to as an expression of futurity in recent written American English has been interpreted by previous studies as being part of a large-scale trend towards the ‘colloquialisation’ of written English. Indeed, in the Frown Corpus most occurrences of going to are found within a range of ‘conversational’ and/or interactive contexts: direct speech, reported speech, soliloquy and so forth. The present analysis, focused on genre categories and pragmatic aims, shows that the ‘colloquialising’ force of the semi-modal does not work in isolation: indeed, in running text going to is often found in co-occurrence with other informal and speech-related linguistic features (both lexical and morphosyntactical) that share the same interpersonal function. These elements are concentrated strategically in texts, probably in order to highlight specific claims. Therefore, besides providing further evidence of the general ongoing colloquialisation or informalisation of written English, the use of going to seems to be part of a strategy which involves a voluntary switch in style in order to create an intersubjective connection with the reader.

Corpus Linguistics

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