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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2020

Subjective progressives in the history of American English

He’s always telling some kind of lie

From the book Corpus Linguistics, Context and Culture

  • Magnus Levin


This study investigates subjective progressives with always/constantly/ forever (e.g., you’re always complaining) in American English with data from the Corpus of Historical American English (COHA). The results show that subjective progressives are increasing but that this shift is restricted to always + progressive. The increase in subjective progressives is linked to colloquialization as reflected in an increasing use of first-person subject pronouns and contracted verb forms. Fiction contains the highest frequency of subjective progressives, largely due to fictional dialogue expressing subjective attitudes. The proportion of negative subjective attitudes decreases slightly towards the end of the 20th century. The material indicates that women are leading the way in the increase in subjective progressives, but there is no difference in women’s and men’s preferences for expressing negative subjective attitudes.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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