You are kidding right? The English present progressive as a stance marker in film dialogue


Telecinematic discourse is a highly involved and emotionally loaded register (Quaglio 2009; Forchini 2012) in which stance and emotionality are conveyed via a variety of linguistic structures, including intensifiers (Tagliamonte, Roberts 2005; Baños 2013), expletives (Azzaro 2018; Bednarek 2019), vocatives (Formentelli 2014; Zago 2015) and emotionally charged lexical bundles (Freddi 2011; Bednarek 2012). The current study focuses on the present progressive in English film dialogue as an additional stance marker, especially when used in non-aspectual functions. Following Leech et al. (2009)’s model, different uses of the present progressive are investigated in a corpus of filmic speech, the Pavia Corpus of Film Dialogue. After categorizing all the occurrences of present progressives in the corpus by their specific function (aspectual, futurate, stative, attitudinal), items are further classified based on their affiliative or disaffiliative stance. The focus is then narrowed down onto attitudinal, particularly interpretive, present progressives. The most common verbs used in interpretive patterns are singled out and analyzed in greater detail, by looking at the clusters or n-grams they appear in and drawing comparisons with spontaneous spoken language data. Findings show that interpretive present progressives are used extensively in film dialogue and often associate with a stance-marking, primarily disaffiliative function. The trend is especially evident in a set of verbs that appear in recurring patterns and n-grams throughout the corpus and act as privileged interpretive predicates. Data also suggest that multiple features cluster together to convey interpersonal meaning and display disalignment and conflict on screen.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v44p183

Keywords: present progressive; film dialogue; interpersonal stance; disaffiliation; n-grams.


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