Quando vaghezza e focus entrano in contatto:
il caso di un attimo, anzi un attimino
In this article, we present a corpus-based study of the uses of un attimo ‘an instant’ and un attimino ‘an instant.dim’ in spoken Italian. Starting from the original temporal function, un attimo developed multiple functions, which derive from a double path of functional expansion. Firstly, we can recognize a semantic and pragmatic path, which brings to the use of un attimo as vague quantifier and then as hedge. Secondly, there is a path towards textual uses, which exploits the possibility of using un attimo as alerter in some imperative constructions and then as focuser, mostly in the uses of un attimino. Interestingly, we found that, when using un attimino, the hedge and focuser functions can coexist, since they express different levels of meanings. By this way, the speaker can mitigate the content or the force of what s/he is saying, but simultaneously call the attention of the addressee on it.
Keywords: vagueness • hedge • alerter, •spoken Italian • grammaticalization