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The subject of -ing forms in a legal English corpus

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The article concentrates on the subject forms of -ing sentence condensers. We tested the general linguistic opinions against the findings obtained by analysis of a corpus compiled from two genres of legal English, i.e. legislation and judicial decisions. Our corpus research derived from a scalar approach to particular types of -ing forms and concentrated on gerundial and participial condensers. Corpus findings confirmed statistical prevalence of the common case subject over the possessive case subject, which, however, cannot be treated as a proof of a higher degree of formality of the possessive case as the law reports comprise both forms without 'prima facie' semantic or stylistic distinction. A specific feature found in respect of the legislative genre is exclusiveness of the possessive form with the pronouns, and the common case form with the nouns. The imperative of explicit expression of the -ing agent that is not identical with the matrix agent intensifies up the axis: deverbal noun - -ing verbal noun - gerund - -ing participle as condenser - -ing participle as indicator of the progressive aspect of a finite verb. Frequency corpus findings suggest that in the case of a possibility of pragmatic identification of the agent, its explicit formal absence is not treated as defective, hence unattached gerundial and participial constructions show a rather stable position in the language system.
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