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Title: Prospective Aspect Constructions in West Germanic
Subtitle: A Comparative Corpus Study of German and Dutch
Author(s): BOGAARDS, Maarten , FLEISCHHAUER, Jens
Journal: Leuvense Bijdragen - Leuven Contributions in Linguistics and Philology
Volume: 104    Date: 2022-2023   
Pages: 5-37
DOI: 10.2143/LB.104.0.3293181

Abstract :
Germanic languages are poor in grammaticalized expressions of viewpoint aspect. Many conceptual subcategories belonging to viewpoint aspect have been neglected in the study of aspect in these languages. This paper reports on a comparative corpus study of one such subcategory, namely prospective aspect (e.g., English be about to) as expressed by German [davor stehen zu INF] ‘lit. stand before to INF’ and Dutch [op het punt staan (om) te INF] ‘lit. stand on the point to INF’. Both constructions derive from an expression with locational meaning and include a posture verb meaning ‘stand’. Given that German and Dutch vary in the degree of grammaticalizing aspect (e.g., the ‘am-Progressiv’ in German vs. the ‘aan het-progressief’ in Dutch), we raise the question whether these prospective constructions exhibit such variation as well. Based on previous literature and a conceptual working definition of prospectivity, we start from the hypothesis that prospective aspect constructions are restricted to infinitives denoting a change of state. Our corpus study shows that variation between the German and Dutch constructions is surprisingly limited, and that both constructions display a clear preference for change-of-state-denoting infinitives but are not restricted to this semantic type of predicate.

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