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Folia Linguistica

Acta Societatis Linguisticae Europaeae

Editor-in-Chief: Fischer, Olga / Norde, Muriel

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Volume 37, Issue 1


Reading the intentions of be going to. On the subjectification of future markers

Sara Budts / Peter Petré
Published Online: 2016-11-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flih-2016-0001


This paper provides a detailed corpus-based account of the formal and functional changes that be going to underwent in Late Modern English. Despite be going to’s popularity, such studies remain rare for this period, in which the construction’s grammaticalization went through a second phase. Our analysis shows that the first half of the eighteenth century witnessed a shift from intention to prediction, which originated in contexts with third person subjects. Reporting the intention of others generally involves a certain amount of guesswork, which eventually resulted in the creation of an additional, epistemic layer of prediction, reinforced by the gradual extension of be going to to express non-imminent future situations. It is argued that this shift involves an increase in subjectivity, as the emphasis gradually moved away from the grammatical subject to the speaker: what mattered was no longer the intentions of the subject, but the knowledge of the speaker about them. Attention is also drawn to parallel developments in other future markers, particularly will. Interestingly, and in spite of significant differences, each of these went through an intermediary stage that involved past tense uses with reference to a future in the past, which was already known to the speaker.

Keywords: grammaticalization; subjectification; future markers; Late Modern English


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-11-08

Published in Print: 2016-11-01

Citation Information: Folia Linguistica, Volume 37, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1614-7308, ISSN (Print) 0165-4004, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flih-2016-0001.

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