A typological study of the grammaticalization of progressive aspect

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Start date: 20/08/2011
End date: 20/08/2016


Diachronic studies on aspect have shown that progressive aspect precedes imperfective aspect and present tense in the grammaticalization process. Progressive constructions are often periphrastic and more restrictive in their functions. In addition, the lexical components in progressive constructions are often transparent. In the process of grammaticalization, these constructions will gradually generalize in meaning and reduce in form, such as, for example, contraction with the verb, and grammaticalize into imperfective aspect or present tense (Dahl and Bybee, 1989: 59). Thus, the grammaticalization process of progressive aspect follows a well documented process where lexically transparent periphrastic constructions with restrictive functions generalize into morphologically bound, non-transparent constructions with wider range of application (Hopper and Traugott, 2008). This leaves us to believe, that progressive aspect is one of the first aspectual markers to appear in languages. A typological study on progressive aspect in different language families, including the variation within one language family or genus, could give us a more detailed insight of the development of this process. The variation within one language family may then reveal the different stages of grammaticalization of the progressive construction. A study of this extent is yet in demand. In their study on the origin of progressive aspect in romance languages, Bertinetto et al. (2000), suggest stages in the upcoming of the progressive marker. However, I have not yet found similar studies done on other language families, nor has the proposed stages been tested on other, non-Indo-European, language families.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:37