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An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

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Volume 57, Issue 5


(Inter)subjective uses of the Dutch progressive constructions

Lynn Anthonissen / Astrid De Wit / Tanja Mortelmans
Published Online: 2019-06-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2019-0019


This paper addresses the (inter)subjective functions of progressive aspect in Dutch. While the aspectual profile of the various Dutch progressive constructions has received considerable attention in the last few years, much less attention has been paid to their non-aspectual uses. As we will demonstrate in this paper on the basis of a corpus study of spoken Dutch, complemented with native-speaker elicitations, the Dutch progressive constructions can be specifically recruited to express (inter)subjective meanings such as surprise, irritation and intensity, and they differ in this respect from their simplex counterparts. Our analysis of progressive aspect in terms of backgrounded boundaries provides an explanation for (i) the general association of progressive aspect with (inter)subjectivity and (ii) our observation that some Dutch progressive constructions are more prone to such (inter)subjective exploitation than others. This semantic account also underlies the last part of this contribution, in which we discuss cases of what we call “(inter)subjective reinforcement” in complex progressive constructions, that is, the embedding of progressive constructions in other constructions that are also semantically affiliated to (inter)subjectivity (e.g. the perfect, gaan/komen ‘go/come’, modals and the bare infinitive construction), which has been largely neglected in the literature.

Keywords: progressive aspect; (inter)subjectivity; Dutch; posture/motion verbs


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About the article

Published Online: 2019-06-08

Published in Print: 2019-09-25

Citation Information: Linguistics, Volume 57, Issue 5, Pages 1111–1159, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2019-0019.

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