a-dancing and a-singing

Muriel Norde m.norde at rug.nl
Sat Jun 6 11:33:04 UTC 2009

Brian MacWhinney schreef:
> Can this be found in other Germanic languages, I wonder?  
Yes, there is a cognate, and very productive, progressive construction 
in Dutch, consisting of the preposition /aan/ 'on' + the neuter definite 
article /het/ + the infinitive of a verb:

/Zij is aan het zwemmen/ (she is on the swim-INF) 'she is swimming'

The construction may also include a direct object as in:

/Hij is aan het aardappels schillen/ (he is at the potatoes peel-INF) 
'he's peeling potatoes'.

There is a recent paper about this by Geert Booij: Constructional idioms 
as products of linguistic change: the aan het + infinitive construction 
in Dutch. In Alexander Bergs and Gabriele Diewald (eds.), /Constructions 
and language change/. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 79-104 (2008)


Prof. dr. Muriel Norde
Scandinavian Languages and Cultures
University of Groningen
P.O. Box 716
9700 AS Groningen
The Netherlands

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