THE PRESENT PROGRESSIVE IN FRENCH

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1 Astrid De Wit & Adeline Patard University of Antwerp Chronos 10 Aston, Birmingham April 2011 THE PRESENT RESSIVE IN FRENCH IN COMPARISON WITH ENGLISH

2 A COUPLE OF OBSERVATIONS Eng Right now I *walk (/ m walking) through the garden. vs. Fre Là je me promène dans le jardin. obligatory in Eng but not in Fre Eng Tomorrow I m taking her to the zoo. vs. Fre Demain je *suis en train de l emmener (/ l emmène) au zoo. excluded in Fre but not in Eng Eng You re really irritating me. Fre T es vraiment en train de m énerver. Eng and Fre both used in that stand out 2

3 CONTENT 1. (De Wit & Brisard 2009) 2. the Fre P 3. of the comparative observations 3.1. Why is the Fre P less grammaticalized? 3.2. Why are particular uses of the P excluded in Fre and common in Eng? 3.3. Why is Fre P preferred in some? 4. 3

4 USAGE TYPES OF THE ENG P the Eng P the Fre P Figure 1. Semantic map of usage types of (De Wit & Brisard, to appear) 4

5 USAGE TYPES OF THE FRE P the Fre P Corpus study of present-tense uses of en train de in spoken, present-day French on the basis of three corpora: Elicop, CLAPI and CFPP2000 (190 targets). Classification on the basis of usage type, lexical aspect, verb meaning, modal connotations, various syntactic features, etc. 5

6 the Fre P needed FRE prog USAGE TYPES OF THE FRE P The Fre P is much less frequent than the Eng P Table 1. Absolute and normalized frequencies (per tokens) of the Eng and Fre Ps Absolute frequency Normalized frequency Eng P ,77 Fre P 190 0,97 In 245 out of 353 cases where is required, the French P is not (unnatural or ungrammatical) 6

7 TEMPORAL USAGE TYPES OF THE FRE P the Fre P needed FRE prog English French Figure 2. Relative frequencies of the usage types of the Fre and Eng P (in percentages) 7

8 the Fre P TEMPORAL USAGE TYPES OF THE FRE P Current ongoingness 76 % (vs 36% for English) (16) A: qu est c que tu es en train d lire là? B: celui là? A: comment ça s'appelle ça? (Clapi) Habituality 10% (vs 12% for English) (20) dès qu'ils ont une place apparemment ils sont en train d'mettre des des immeubles de bureaux j'sais pas si vous avez remarqué (CFPP2000) sense of irritation 8

9 TEMPORAL USAGE TYPES OF THE FRE P the Fre P Duration 1 % (vs 5% for English) (23) ça fait un an que je suis en train de faire un truc qui est INCROYABLE je sais pas si tu te rends compte (Clapi) Futurity 0 % (vs 13% for English) (24) Je *suis en train de partir DEMAIN. (vs I m leaving TOMORROW) 9

10 MODAL CONNOTATIONS OF THE FRE P the Fre P English French Figure 3. Relative frequencies of modal connotations of the Fre and Eng P (in percentages) Modal connotations: all attested in Fre, in similar proportions (44% of all the cases vs 53% for Eng) 10

11 the Fre P MODAL CONNOTATIONS OF THE FRE P Atypicality / mirativity 7 % (vs 18% for English) (27) il vient nous embêter il dit oh regardez vous êtes en train de faire l'amour mais en fait c'est pas vrai on joue ensemble (Clapi) Interpretative use 9 % (vs 8% for English) (29) A: le quartier a des tas de liens ne serait-c' que par l'école et les paroisses +hein B: absolument + c'est vrai A: ce que vous êtes en train de dire c'est qu'il y a une présence catholique forte encore (CFPP2000) 11

12 ANALYSIS the French P prog Observation: The Fre is much less frequent and has a more restricted range of usage types than the Eng. Questions raised: 1) Why is the Fre less grammaticalized, less needed? 2) Why are particular uses of the P excluded or avoided in Fre and not in Eng? 3) Why is the Fre nevertheless preferred in some (i.e., more natural than the simple present)? 12

13 1) WHY IS THE FRE LESS GRAMMATICALIZED, LESS NEEDED? the Fre P needed Fre Different evolution English French: English (Núñez-Pertejo 2004, Kranich 2010): OE: Prefix system PVF verbs derived from verb stem by means of ge-, be- etc. Synthetic aspectual opposition: prefixed PVF verbs vs non-prefixed IPVF verbs 13

14 1) WHY IS THE FRE LESS GRAMMATICALIZED, LESS NEEDED? the Fre P needed Fre Different evolution English French: English (Núñez-Pertejo 2004, Kranich 2010): OE: EMiE: Prefix system Loss of prefix system all verbs lexically unmarked (for aspect) Called for a new way of aspect marking Grammaticalization of the (sense of duration ) 14

15 1) WHY IS THE FRE LESS GRAMMATICALIZED, LESS NEEDED? Different evolution English French: English (Núñez-Pertejo 2004, Kranich 2010): the Fre P needed Fre OE: EMiE: LMoE: Prefix system Loss of prefix system Grammaticalization of (obligatory use) Development of PFV zero gram (Bybee 1995) New aspectual opposition: PFV simple forms vs IPFV forms 15

16 the Fre P needed Fre 1) WHY IS THE FRE LESS GRAMMATICALIZED, LESS NEEDED? Different evolution English French: French MiF ClF (Pusch 2003, Caudal & Vetters 2005, Do-Hurinville 2007, Mortier 2008): Inflectional opposition passé simple vs imparfait Emergence of être en train de + inf 19 th Acquisition of a meaning 20 th Limited grammaticalization (non-obligatory use) 16

17 1) WHY IS THE FRE LESS GRAMMATICALIZED, LESS NEEDED? the Fre P needed Fre Different evolution English French: French (Pusch 2003, Caudal & Vetters 2005, Do-Hurinville 2007, Mortier 2008): In Fre, the did not grammaticalize to the extent it did in English, because there is no need for an additional imperfectizing device (cf. the imparfait), as opposed to English in which the loss of the prefix system created a vacuum that favoured the development of the (Núñez- Pertejo 2004) 17

18 2) WHY ARE PARTICULAR USES OF THE P EXCLUDED OR AVOIDED IN FRE? the Fre P Difficulty with durative (cf. Bertinetto 2000, Pusch 2003) (23) ça fait un an que je suis en train de faire un truc qui est INCROYABLE je sais pas si tu te rends compte (Clapi) Original modal meaning = be in the mood for (doing sth) directly reinterpreted as be involved in (doing sth) Normal development: durative focalized (Bertinetto et al. 2000) 18

19 2) WHY ARE PARTICULAR USES OF THE P EXCLUDED OR AVOIDED IN FRE? the Fre P Exclusion of futurate (24) Je *suis en train de partir DEMAIN. (vs I m leaving TOMORROW) departure from the prototypical meaning (no coincidence with the time of speaking) the future situation is contrued as if it was ongoing at T 0 virtual, subjectified representation of the situation (Langacker) Higher degree of subjectification = higher degree of grammaticalization the Fre P has not arrived (yet?) at those highly subjectified uses. 19

20 3) WHY IS THE FRE P NEVERTHELESS PREFERRED IN SOME CONTEXTS? the Fre P Main difference simple present present progressive: implied boundaries in the background configuration MS 20

21 3) WHY IS THE FRE P NEVERTHELESS PREFERRED IN SOME CONTEXTS? Main difference simple present present progressive: implied boundaries in the background configuration the Fre P IS MS 21

22 3) WHY IS THE FRE P NEVERTHELESS PREFERRED IN SOME CONTEXTS? Main difference simple present present progressive: implied boundaries in the background configuration the Fre P IS Time of speaking t MS 22

23 3) WHY IS THE FRE P NEVERTHELESS PREFERRED IN SOME CONTEXTS? the Fre P Hyp: Fre is more naturally used when the presence of those backgrounded boundaries is contextually exploited (see also Frankel 1989) Focus on the final boundary ( teleonomy ): Typically: ongoingness (incompleteness, conation), tentativeness, interpretative use (31) quoi qu' en ce moment ils sont en train d' essayer de fonder vraiment qu' un parti de la gauche mais alors là ce sera très difficile très délicat (Elicop) 23

24 3) WHY IS THE FRE P NEVERTHELESS PREFERRED IN SOME CONTEXTS? the Fre P Hyp: Fre is more naturally used when the presence of those backgrounded boundaries is contextually exploited (see also Frankel 1989) Focus on the final boundary ( teleonomy ): Typically: ongoingness (incompleteness, conation), tentativeness, interpretative use Significant preference for Fre P to be used with telic predicates, compared to English (p <.00001) 24

25 3) WHY IS THE FRE P NEVERTHELESS PREFERRED IN SOME CONTEXTS? the Fre P Hyp: Fre is more naturally used when the presence of those backgrounded boundaries is contextually exploited (see also Frankel 1989) Focus on the final boundary ( teleonomy ): Typically: ongoingness (incompleteness, conation), tentativeness, interpretative use Focus on the initial boundary ( antiteleonomy ): Typically: mirativity, duration, irritation, intensification Focus on the both boundaries: Typically: temporary validity 25

26 CONCLUSION the Fre P Comparison of Fre & Eng P; observations: The Fre P is less entrenched than. Its usage types constitute a subpart of those of the Eng P (cf. duratives and futurates) It exhibits the same modal connotations than the Eng P (similar proportions) : Diachrony: no need for être en train de to become obligatory. Être en train de restricted to more objectified, nondurational construals. Être en train de more naturally used in in which the backgrounded boundaries of the situation are specifically exploited. 26

27 the Fre P Interpretative Irritation / negative evaluation Atypicality /surprise Intensification / emphasis Tentativeness Figure 4. Temporal usage types and modal connotations (in percentages) 27

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