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The article examines verbal constructions with the meaning of durability/continuity in the functional semantic field of aspectuality in modern Dutch. It considers six basic constructions, which include such verbs as zitten ‘to sit', staan ‘to stand', liggen ‘to lie', lopen ‘to go', hangen ‘to hang'. Though grammaticalization of constructions with posture verbs as indicators of the progressive meaning is typical of many languages, Dutch is known to be unique: the main verb in this construction is used in the form of the infinitive with the particle “te”: Zij zit te lezen ‘She is sitting and reading'; We staan te rot'pen ‘We are standing and shouting'; the particle “te” disappears in the perfect tense and both verbs are used in the infinitive: Hij heeft zitten slapen ‘He has been asleep' (literally, ‘sat sleeping'). The first four verbs denote the location of the performer/actor in space. The fact that the construction with these four verbs has undergone significant grammaticalization is supported by the ability of the posture verb to undergo desemantization, as it can be seen in the following cases: (a) when the construction is used in the imperative mood; (b) when the performer/actor is inanimate, (c) when the meaning of the verb in the infinitive form is incompatible with the meaning of the posture verb (e.g. zitten ‘to sit' and springen ‘to jump'). The verb hangen ‘to hang', which is used only with an inanimate performer/actor, is susceptible to desemantization least of all. The other five progressive constructions are analyzed in accordance with the following parameters: completeness and characteristics of their paradigm, compatibility with different performers/actors (animate or inanimate), level of desemantization of auxiliary elements, additional grammatical meanings overlapping with the meaning of durability. From the perspective of these parameters, constructions aan+ het + infinitive + verb zijn and bezig zijn + te + infinitive ‘to be doing / to be engaged in something' are the most universal and the closest to the center of the micro-field of durability. The construction blijven + infinitive ‘continue doing something' is further from the center due to its additional meaning of the continuity of the action, with the micro-field of durability overlapping with the micro-field of phasal meanings. Constructions zijn + infinitive (Hij is vissen ‘He is fishing') and zijn + present participle (De kat is stervende ‘The cat is dying') are at the periphery of the micro-field of durability due to their low frequency of usage and little number of verbs that can be used in them.

Translated title of the contributionDurative verbal constructions in modern Dutch
Original languageRussian
Pages (from-to)82-93
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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