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Subjective progressives in seventeenth and eighteenth century English

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Abstract

The aim of the study is to analyse the subjective uses of the progressive in 17th and 18th century English, i.e., uses of the progressives as expressions of speaker attitude. After an overview of the Old and Middle English meanings of the progressive, I discuss the three different types of subjective progressives found in the 17th and 18th century data from <i>ARCHER</i>-2 (<i>A Representative Corpus of Historical English Registers 2</i>). In this context, I discuss some methodological issues, as formal criteria have proved insufficiently reliable for the distinction of subjective uses (cf. Killie 2004). I then look at the relation between subjective and other meanings of the progressive. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the aspectual function of the progressive grammaticalizes, which leads to changing relative frequencies between subjective and objective uses. The paper ends with some suggestions about general tendencies in the relation between grammaticalization and subjectification and objectification.

References

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