What is it about?

My study examines so-called wh-exclamatives (How wonderful this is! What a genius she was!) in three different Present-Day English genres, namely prose fiction, personal letters and informal face-to-face conversation. The results of the corpus study are somewhat surprising because they show that wh-exclamatives are most frequent in personal letters, a genre which has hitherto not been linked with exclamatives. Furthermore, the outcomes demonstrate that each genre shows a different distribution of exclamatives. The results compel us to consider that exclamatives might be more specialized than has been believed so far.

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Why is it important?

I believe this is the first corpus linguistics study that addresses the importance of text types in research on exclamatives. My results show that there seems to be a correlationship between genre and type of exclamative that is chosen, and that exclamatives fulfill very different functions in each. Finally, some of the outcomes are quite puzzling: why do people exclaim so frequently in letters?


Writing this article proved to be both a challenge and a pleasure - it was challenging because my results contradict many previously held beliefs. At the same time, it proved to be a pleasure as I was able to contribute important evidence to the linguistic discussion, which might lead to some reconsiderations of some hitherto unquestioned truths.

Daniela Schröder
University of Münster

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This page is a summary of: The genre specifics of English wh-exclamatives, Functions of Language, June 2023, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/fol.22013.sch.
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