Subjectivity and the English progressive 1
According to Wright (1994a), subjectivity in the English progressive is typically associated with specific linguistic features. In particular, subjective progressives are said normally to occur in main clauses and to involve an adverb(ial) of the type always, a first- or second-person pronominal subject and a private or cognitive verb in the present tense. This study tests Wright's claim against a corpus of Early Modern English prose. The focus is on the kind of subjective progressives that are claimed by Wright to be most subjective of all, namely collocations of the progressive with adverbs such as always. It is shown that the ‘always progressives’ in the corpus are typically found in a subclause, in collocation with an activity verb, and that they commonly occur with different types of subjects and tense/mood combinations. The conclusion is therefore that Wright's predictions concerning typical linguistic contexts for subjective progressives are not borne out.(Received June 23 2003)
(Revised November 13 2003)
1 I would like to thank Professor Toril Swan, Professor David Denison, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments, which have all been taken into consideration.