The Progressive in Modern English

A Corpus-Based Study of Grammaticalization and Related Changes


This book constitutes the first full-length diachronic treatment of the English progressive from Old English to Present-day English, focusing on the crucial phase of its grammaticalization between the 17th and 20th centuries. It uses data from the British component of ARCHER-2 (A Representative Corpus of Historical English Registers, version 2) to uncover the details of this long-term grammaticalization process, tracing the development of the construction from a stylistic device to a fully-fledged aspect marker. Illustrated by a wealth of examples, the work offers new results concerning the preferred linguistic environments and the development of the functions of the progressive. In contrast to previous studies, the author shows that there are certain restrictions to context expansion in grammaticalization. She argues convincingly that the persistent reluctance of the progressive to occur in certain contexts does not point to incomplete grammaticalization, but can instead be explained as a product of its particular functions. The author also challenges the tenet that grammaticalization is generally accompanied by subjectification.
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Biographical Note

Svenja Kranich obtained a PhD in English linguistics from the Freie Universität Berlin. She has published on the English progressive and on general issues in grammaticalization, as well as on the use of modal expressions in English and German and the impact of English on German textual norms. She is a researcher at the Research Center on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg.

Review Quotes

”All in all, this well-edited and well-structured volume, written in an entirely academic yet pleasingly readable style, brings much new light on the history of the progressive.” in: English Language and Linguistics, Vol. 17/1 (2013)

Table of contents

Theoretical background and methodology
The functions of the progressive in present-day English
A brief overview of the development of the progressive before the Modern English period
Changes in frequency and the impact of external factors on the progressive in Modern English
Linguistic contexts of the Modern English progressive
The functions of the progressive in Modern English
Evidence for grammaticalization and subjectification