Hi, Gideon, and welcome to the G.E,
Is the use of the stative verb 'hear' in the continuous form correct in the following example, and if so - what is the rule that allows it?
'Has Bob heard the news?'
'He's just been called to the principal's office and he's probably hearing the news as we speak.'
IMO, the progressive tense is acceptable here. According to 'LDOCE' and according to the editor of Longman Website, when 'hear' means 'to be told something', it is sometimes -though not often- used in the progressive.
- I have been hearing / have heard good things about your work. (An example from the previous Longman Website).
This explanation applies to your question above.
Quirk in 'A COMPREHENSIVE GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE' says:
"Note the exceptional use of see and hear with the progressive (focusing on the process of perception) in:
1. I need some spectacles. I'm not seeing things so well these days.
2. A: Did you hear a bell ring just then?
B: No. I can't hear a thing.
A: There it goes again! l am hearing it now. (I can hear it now).
Grammatically speaking, 'hear' is actually used in the progressive when it means 'to imagine sounds'.
- There is no one there. I must be hearing things. (On LDOCE).
However, when 'hear' means 'to know that a sound is being made using your ears', it isn't used in the progressive and the progressive meaning could be indicated by preceding it by 'can/could'.
- She heard him singing.