5dez 2022
06:30 UTC

The development of beside(s) as a discourse marker in trial proceedings

This paper investigates the development of beside(s) from adverbial to discourse marker in the context of trial proceedings. The goal of the study is to observe the relative frequencies of the forms beside and besides across four centuries, as well as the circumstances of their use. The theoretical background of this work leans on the framework of grammaticalization theory, as well as on the cline for the development of beside(s) proposed by Traugott (1997). According to this cline, the use of besides as a discourse marker began in the mid-15th century, and it developed from an adverbial/prepositional phrase with a literal locative meaning to a discourse marker that frames an entire utterance and serves to extend the discourse with an afterthought.
The text type Traugott mentions in relation to this development are precisely trial proceedings. On the basis of that theoretical background, this study attempts to quantify this language change by analyzing the use of beside and besides in trial proceedings through time and from the perspective of several parameters. One of those parameters is semantic: is the meaning of the utterance locative, or has it already shifted to a meaning of extension? Related
to that are syntactic parameters: what is the position of beside(s) in the utterance, and does it head a prepositional or an adverbial phrase, or hedge an entire utterance as a discourse marker? The ultimate goal of this study is to explore the correlation between those parameters and so draw conclusions about the use of beside(s) in trial proceedings over four centuries.
Two corpora are used in the course of the study: A Corpus of English Dialogues (section Trial Proceedings), which covers the timespan between 1560 and 1760, and The Old Bailey Proceedings Online, which covers two additional centuries, from 1720 to1910. The Corpus of English Dialogues contains 285,660 words, and the Old Bailey contains 24.4 million spoken words. Every instance of beside and besides in the corpora is annotated for year, the position of
the element within the utterance, its syntactic scope and semantics. Additionally, since the metadata of the corpora also contain information about the gender of the speakers, this sociolinguistic variable is also discussed.
This combination of a qualitative and quantitative approach provides a detailed account of the development of beside(s) as a discourse marker in the context of trial proceedings as a text type.