Affordable Access

English adverbs of essence and their equivalents in Dutch and French

  • Vandenbergen, Anne-Marie
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2012
Ghent University Institutional Archive
External links


In Quirk et al. (1985: §8.27) the adverbs basically, essentially and fundamentally are listed under the label ‘content disjuncts’, more specifically in the sub-group of disjuncts which “present a comment on the truth value of what is said”. The three adverbs are said to “claim that what is being said is true in principle”. In this article they are referred to as “adverbs of essence”, because they have the notion of ‘essence’ as their core sense, expressing that something is true in a basic, essential or fundamental sense. These adverbs have been studied extensively by Butler in three articles (2008a, 2000b, 2008c), which focus on the English adverbs and their formal equivalents in the Romance languages Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian. On the basis of empirical research in parallel corpora, Butler finds correspondences as well as differences between these formal equivalents in the respective languages. The present article takes a translation perspective and zooms in on the English adverbs and their equivalents in French and in Dutch. While French was included in Butler’s study (2008c) his findings were based on a parallel corpus, thus focusing on how the behaviour of the cognates compared both with English and the other Romance languages. In this study we look at translation equivalents of the English adverbs. This means that the French translation paradigm will contain non-cognates expressing contextual senses of the English adverbs. Dutch, a Germanic language, also does have the formal equivalents essentieel and fundamenteel but mostly uses other words to translate the English adverbs. By focusing on the translation equivalents rather than on the formal equivalents this study is able to examine Butler’s findings for English from a different and complementary perspective. The results confirm his claim that from the point of view of pragmatic developments and in particular from the point of view of intersubjectification, basically has advanced furthest, fundamentally least, and essentially takes a middle position. The study is based on the monolingual British National Corpus and on the trilingual Namur Corpus which consists of English, French and Dutch original and translated texts.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times