Daisuke Suzuki Setsunan University Maybe: Development and Topic Marking.”


This paper discusses the development of maybe and related expressions (i.e., it may be, mayhap) in the history of English. I provide a quantitative analysis of their long‑term histories by drawing on the OED and its quotations database, along with data from two different datasets, namely, the Corpus of Late Modern English Texts, version 3.0, and the Brown family of corpora. After extracting their instances from the datasets, this study analyzes the data to determine the position in which maybe is used the most within a clause. The results of the analysis indicate that both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were crucial periods for the development of maybe. In addition, I further demonstrate that the target adverb, over time, began exhibiting features of a topic marker, and that the development has also interwoven with the process of subjectification.

Keywords: English modal adverbs, OED, corpus data, historical analysis, topic/theme, subjectification.

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