Kontekstbetingede ændringer: Udviklingen af 'godt' og 'vel' som affirmativer

  • Eva Skafte Jensen (Lecturer)

    Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution


     In Danish the adverbial godt 'good' (from the adj. god 'good') has a certain function as a marker of affirmation. In any utterance with the potentiality of uncertainty, godt 'good' may be used to affirm that the SoA is indeed the case. Godt 'good' is often seen in the company of modal verbs signifying possibility (never in the company of modal verbs signifying necessity). The use of godt 'good', however, can also be seen in utterances without modal verbs: jeg har godt hørt det 'indeed, I did hear it' (lit.: I have good heard it).

    Now, how did this function develop? Looking through the earliest manuscripts of Old Danish (14th and 15th centuries), the word godt 'good' does not have this function - but instead one finds quite a few examples of modal verbs within the possibility domain in the company of the adverb vel 'well'. Thus vel 'well' seems to have been a forerunner to godt 'good'. In Danish then, to have a word functioning as the opposite of negation, apparently is very old.

    In my paper I will present examples from Old Danish with the affirmation marker vel 'well' and examples from Modern Danish with the affirmation marker godt 'good', and I will try to explain how it came about that Danish developed this function at all.

    Emneord: grammar, semantics, pragmatics, linguistic change, adverbials, negation
    Period6 Aug 2007
    Event title18th International Conference on Historical Linguistics (ICHL)
    Event typeConference
    LocationMontréal, CanadaShow on map


    • grammar
    • semantics
    • pragmatics
    • linguistic change
    • adverbials
    • negation