The evolution of epistemic marking in West Australian English

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


Across English varieties, frequent subject + epistemic/evidential verb constructions have been reanalysed as formulaic stance markers capable of introducing an embedded clause in the absence of that. I think has grammaticalised further and can occur in a syntactically parenthetical location in an utterance as an ‘epistemic parenthetical’. This chapter explores the emergence of grammatical constraints on think usage in a collection of State Library of Western Australia oral histories. The corpus features 39 speakers of Anglo-Celtic Australian English born between 1874 and 1983. Findings indicate that it is not until the late 20th century that parenthetical I think emerges as a grammatically entrenched variable with pragmatic functions involving the expression of opinion and the mitigation of negative judgement. Keywords: epistemic; evidential; think; Australian English; parenthetical
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGrammatical Change in English World-Wide
EditorsPeter Collins
Place of PublicationThe Netherlands
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISBN (Print)9789027203755
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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