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Paloma Núñez-Pertejo

The Progressive In The History Of English

The Progressive In The History Of English

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The present study aims to provide a descriptive account of be + -ing periphrases, as in he was reading a book, in the history of the English language. The controversial origin of these periphrases as well as their later evolution and development is discussed, and special attention is devoted to their behaviour in the early Modern English period, which turns out to be an outstanding stage in the history of be + -ing. For this purpose, computerized data from The Helsinki Corpus of English Texts: Diachronic and Dialectal are retrieved and the evidence provided is further analysed and discussed. The book opens with an introductory chapter which deals with some basic questions, such as the problem of terminology, the formal resemblance between the progressive and other related constructions (e.g. adjectival participles), and also with the definition of the category 'aspect'. The second chapter offers an overview of the semantics of the progressive, which is a rather complicated issue of English verb syntax. Attention is devoted to the role played by temporal adverbials in combination with be + ing, to so-called 'non-progressive verbs', and also to the traditional dichotomy progressive vs. non-progressive (simple) forms.

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