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“We’re hearing from Reuters that…”: The role of around-the-clock news media in the increased use of the present progressive with mental process type verbs

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Several studies have reported the diachronically increased use of the present progressive in English over the last century (e.g. Mair & Hundt, 1995; Levin, 2013). Working in a systemic-functional tradition, Clarke (forthcoming) shows that this general trend is true too with a sub-class of verbs which are classified as ‘mental processes’ in the same paradigm’s description of transitivity (Halliday, 1967-8; 1994), verbs which traditionally do not associate with the present progressive (Palmer, 1965: 95-97; Leech, 2004: 25-27). Leech (2004: 26; 29-30) has shown that this construction can be motivated by a desire to mitigate interpersonal pressures (cf. Brown & Levinson, 1987). But Clarke (forthcoming) argues that some instances of its use are semantically motived by a desire to represent events under discussion as emphatically current in the here and now. In this paper, one potential contextual explanation for the trend in question is explored; namely, the advent of twenty-four hour news media, their effect on the production of news and the increased importance of ‘recency’ as a news value (Bell, 1991; Gatlung & Ruge, 1965).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSystemic functional linguistics in the Digital Age
EditorsSheena Gardner, Sian Alsop
Place of PublicationSheffield
PublisherEquinox Publishing Ltd
Pages99-119
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781781792384, 9781781792391
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016

Publication series

NameFunctional Linguistics

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