Agreement, participles, progressives and Global Englishes


Dr. Magnus Levin conducted a seminar on "Change and variation in the English verb phrase, with a focus on progressives and Global Englishes" on 23 October 2013 at the Faculty of Philology and Translation. Dr Levin is Senior Lecturer at Linnaeus University (Department of Languages), where he teaches English linguistics and language proficiency courses. He has published extensively on two main research areas: change and variation in the English verb phrase (on agreement with collective nouns, the topic of his PhD-based monograph, on variation in the category of past participles as in burned versus burnt, on the uses of the progressive and, in particular, of be always/forever/constantly -ing) and phraseology (on, for example, body-part nouns as in back to back). Dr. Levin's research can be found in prestigious journals such as International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, ICAME Journal, English Language and Linguistics, etc. and also in collective volumes published by Cambridge University Press, Rodopi, John Benjamins, etc.

Seminar outline: The seminar discussed some areas where there is change and variation in English verb morphology. It covered both more well-known instances such as the progressive with stative verbs (He was always wanting to do the right thing), variation between forms such as burned and burnt, and agreement with collective nouns (His family is/are happy), and less well researched areas such as He pleaded/pled guilty. The presentation will cover a number of factors affecting variation, such as regional factors, stylistic differences and iconicity. The progressive is one of the areas of English grammar that has received the most attention in recent years. It is both on the increase and it expresses a range of different meanings. Dr. Levin's presentation dealt with so-called always progressives, i.e. progressives occurring together with adverbials of the type always/constantly/forever. Such progressives typically express (negative) subjective attitudes, such as in They’re always misquoting me. The seminar compared native varieties of English (American English), and also Lingua Franca varieties of the language.