The modal potential in the English present progressive

Source document: Brno studies in English. 2018, vol. 44, iss. 1, pp. [43]-62
Extent
[43]-62
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
Language
English
License: Not specified license
Abstract(s)
Following Verhagen's suggestion that "one cannot be an optimal semanticist without also doing syntax and discourse analysis" (Verhagen 1995: 104), we attempt to analyse the English present progressive from the semantic point of view. First, we investigate the intertwined connection between tense and aspect. Then, after Goldsmith and Woisetschlaeger (1982) we examine the structural and the phenomenological interpretations of events expressed in present tenses. We claim that present progressive is highly polysemous with a core meaning expressing the immediacy in temporal reality, a number of peripheral but stable senses and numerous "meaning potentials" (Norén and Linell 2007) which are substantiated only in specific contexts. Having established a general view of its meanings, we analyze unconventional uses of the present progressive i.e. its occurrence with verbs traditionally perceived as static. We suggest that modal meanings in such unconventional pairings of verb and aspect emerge as a result of a blending process (Fauconnier and Turner 2002, 2003).
Document
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