Like as An Exemplifier: A Description of its Construction and the Relations It Can Mark

Date of Award

Summer 8-2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Applied Linguistics

Committee Director

Joanne Scheibman

Committee Member

Iryne Kozlova

Committee Member

Craig Stewart

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.L56 O83 2009


This thesis analyzes data where like marks exemplification in naturally occurring discourse. The data for this study were obtained from thirteen interviews and consist of 193 utterances in which exemplifying like links two clauses. Each token consists of two components, each consisting of at least one clause (SV FINITE), linked by like. Based on Vincent's (2007) definition of exemplification, one component introduces a general situation and the other provides an example of that situation. This thesis presents several types of evidence that exemplifying like is a component in an exemplification construction. First, the semantic relation between components is faithfully general/specific regardless of the pragmatic relation between the components. The order in which these components are presented is reliably [GENERAL] [like] [EXAMPLE]. Second, when a second connector links the two components, it regularly occurs before like. Third, deviations from the general ordering of components tend to have discursive functions such as topicalization. However, even when the EXAMPLE component occurs first and the GENERAL component is marked by like, like always marks the second component. Finally, speakers produce this construction collaboratively, and this speaks to the conventionality of the construction. While the semantic relation between G and E is always general/specific, E is not always an example of G. The pragmatic relationship between the components may be category/example, entity/characteristic, event/consequence, or category/contrastive example. The latter three tend to occur when E exemplifies a general situation evoked from frame information associated with G. The gloss suggested by Schourup (1985) for exemplifying like of for example does not take into account these various complex pragmatic relationships or the fact that E is often not an example of G. This thesis fills gaps in the literature concerning exemplification in naturally occurring discourse and about exemplifying like, and it shows the need for further research on the discursive functions of exemplification.


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