Growing evidence suggests that the language used in fictional television can be a fair representation of contemporary language use and changes within the linguistic system. To explore this relationship further, the present study uses variationist quantitative methods to examine the composite system of intensifiers, as well as adjectives of strangeness, in the British fictional TV series Misfits. Results indicate that the distribution and constraints of the two variable systems are similar in both scripted and non-scripted language. With respect to intensifiers, amplifiers were more frequent than downtoners, younger speakers used intensifiers more frequently than older speakers, and women had higher intensification rates than men. Predicative adjectives were also intensified more frequently than attributive adjectives, and the top three boosters were so, really, and very. As for adjectives of strangeness, consistent with findings from vernacular speech, the adjective weird made up over 70 percent of the semantic field, and was favored predominantly by younger speakers. The present study therefore provides empirical support for the use of naturalistic fictional language as a proxy for studying language variation and change.
Feb 14, 2023
Nov 25, 2021
|Stratton, James M., Fiction as a source of linguistic data: Evidence from television drama||Feb 14, 2023|