Connectives, modals and prototypes: a study of 'rather'
Salkie, Raphael (2007) Connectives, modals and prototypes: a study of 'rather' In: Celle, Agnès and Gresset, Stéphane, eds. Connectives as discourse landmarks. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, Netherlands, pp. 15-30. ISBN 9789027254047
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Few words both function as a connective and express modality, but rather seems to do so; it can also be used as a degree modifier. We show that the different uses of rather each have their own puzzling properties, using examples from BNC Baby. Previous attempts to explain what the different uses have in common are few and limited in scope. Using a prototype approach to connectives and modality, we argue that in all its uses, rather serves to narrow down the possible interpretations of an utterance. It is this pragmatic function, rather than a shared underlying meaning, which links the different uses. We also illustrate the development of rather into a verb in some varieties of English.
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