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A Diachronic Study of the Origin of the English Progressive Revisited*

 

 

Sungkyun Shin (Kangwon National University)

 

Shin, Sungkyun. 2016. A Diachronic Study of the Origin of English Progressive Revisited. English Language and Linguistics 22.2, 43-57. Through comparison of the Bible versions from the Anglo-Saxon (Old English 995) through Wycliffe (1389) and Tyndale (1526) to NIV (1978), this study aims to show that the Old English progressive -ende has not changed to Present-day English -ing as a result of Old English on -ung > a -ing > -ing. It further proposes that the Present-day English sentence The priests are in mourning shows that Old English BE on -ung/in -ung remains as the Present-day English in -ing. In addition, this paper also demonstrates that other scholars provide many pieces of evidence in support of this position. The prepositional pattern BE on -ung came into use too late and was too infrequent to become main stream. Furthermore, the preposition in was far more common than on in the Middle English period; yet, it cannot be the direct source of reduced a-. Other evidence is to be found in the prepositional patterns showing a higher proportion of intransitive uses consonant with -ing in those patterns, which are hence perceived as verbal nouns rather than progressives. There are also observed to be various constructions with the progressive occurred in both Old English and Middle English: for example, the progressive was use after the equivalent of Present-day as if.

 

Key words: diachronic, progressive, gerund, comparison of Bible versions

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