In the recent literature (Adamson, A lovely little example: Word order options and category shift in the premodifying string, John Benjamins, 2000; Paradis, Reinforcing adjectives: A cognitive semantic perspective on grammaticalisation, Mouton de Gruyter, 2000; Athanasiadou, Language Sciences 29: 554–565, 2007; Traugott, Journal of Historical Pragmatics 8: 295–309, 2007a, Cognitive Linguistics 18: 523–557, 2007b), the development of ‘emphasizing’ meanings by prenominal elements of the English NP is generally envisaged along a path leading from descriptive, propositional meaning to emphasizing meaning (e.g. from a complete sentence to complete nonsense ; cf. Paradis, Reinforcing adjectives: A cognitive semantic perspective on grammaticalisation, Mouton de Gruyter, 2000: 245). However, earlier Bolinger (Degree words, Mouton, 1972: 59, 60) had posited an alternative path for elements that also express determining meanings, i.e. from determining to emphasizing meaning (e.g. from the complete period to a complete fool ). This paper will assess these opposed claims about the origin of emphasizing uses by means of a data-based study of the development of two adjectives, particular and specific , that have descriptive, determining, as well as emphasizing uses. Reconstruction of the various meaning extensions and structural reanalyses that have affected the adjectives indicates that the now mostly neglected determining uses are an essential step in the subjectification process to emphasizing meanings and they can shed new light on both the chronology and the conceptual mechanisms involved in the syntactic-semantic shifts.