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Marandin, Jean-Marie: Subject Inversion in French. The Limits of Information Structure

My objective here is to assess the relevance of information structural notions for analyzing subject inversion in French. Subject inversion is not a unified phenomenon. In fact, there are three distinct constructions featuring an inverted subject. I show that the sentences do not have the same informational potential (the type of focus-ground articulation they are compatible with) depending on the construction they abide by. I propose a contextual factor – the informational solidarity between the verb and its first argument – to account for those differences. Then, I show that the three constructions share a common feature that pertains to a completely different dimension: the perspective chosen to describe the situation. I adopt Langacker's notion of absolute construal to characterize it. Finally, I present another common feature: the blocking of the referential anchoring of the referent of indefinite and partitive NPs.

Maintained by Stefan Müller

Created: November 16, 2011
Last modified: January 09, 2019

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