intensifiers: which is more powerful

Michael Newman michael.newman at QC.CUNY.EDU
Tue Sep 20 16:51:02 UTC 2011

Krugman (my hero) has an interesting use of intensifiers in his blog today.: (

the CBO estimates that separate the really rich from the only very rich only go up to 2005:

He then goes on to say: "Changes in tax rates have strongly favored the very, very rich."

We usually think of intensifiers as roughly equivalent, but here there's a ranking although I'm not sure which is supposed to be more powerful, "really" or "very." I think it's "very," but I'm not confident about that. 

Michael Newman
Associate Professor of Linguistics
Queens College/CUNY
michael.newman at

The American Dialect Society -

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