Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1993 09:49:03 CST
From: salikoko mufwene mufw[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Subject: Re: some U.S. "Midland" regionalisms
In Message Sat, 11 Dec 1993 15:50:01 CST,
"Donald M. Lance" ENGDL%MIZZOU1.BITNET[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]vma.cc.nd.edu writes:
I'm thinking that, rather than Sali's suggestion of 'transient duration',
the feature that gives us seemingly unexpected progressives of stative
verbs is a feature that might -- and I'm hoping you'll agree, as I'm trusting
my intuitions and judgments and believing, at least for now, that what I'm
liking about my decision and feeling about it is perhaps sorta on a right
track -- be called 'tentativity'. I'm always hating myself after I breach
my coccoon of personal tentativity and propose an idea that others seem to
be loving to shoot down.
Many of the progressive statives are of 'transient duration' as Sali
suggests, such as 'Carla is feeling wonderful'.
The tentativity feature suggested here may play a part in what I suggested
earlier as a politness feature in 'Are you wanting to make an appointment?'
What is tentative: the state of wanting itself or the object of wanting?
May we interpret what you suggest as "implicated meaning/interpretation"
following from not selecting the umarked option without the progressive?
What you suggest seem to follow from what I think is still basically
'short/transient duration', assuming that the unmarked condition for WANT
is of unspecified duration. Your interesting uses of "believe, trust, like,
hate," and even "hope" are still in line with my analysis, although one must
remember that membership in the class of stative verbs is scalar... some
verbs are more stative than others. Some verbs, such as "want," which are
high on the scale of stativity, implicate more when used in the progressive.
Verbs such as "try," brought to bear by Thomas Clark are rather low on this
scale and have unmarked use in the progressive for reference to the present.
So I can see the reversal of implicature in his observation. On the other
hand, I see in his "I try to get a grant" some kinship with dramatic uses of
the simple present tense with activity verbs (not quite a synonym of
"nonstative"), which are very low on the putative scale of stativity.
I'm also inclined to interpret Dennis Preston's "negative expectation"
pragmatically, though this time as a presupposition.
Indeed, selecting some marked options often conveys more messages than may
be suspected, as I see your interventions enriching each other.
Salikoko S. Mufwene
Linguistics, U. of Chicago
s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]uchicago.edu