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The emergence of the grammatical paradigm of nominal determiners in French and in Romance: Comparative and diachronic perspectives

  • Anne Carlier (a1) and Béatrice Lamiroy (a2)
Abstract

This article is devoted to the emergence of a new paradigm in French and Romance: that of nominal determiners. Latin had no articles, and although possessives, demonstratives and indefinites could determine the noun, they could also be used as pronouns or adjectives, so that the morpho-syntactic category of nominal determiners did not exist as such. We first examine the diachronic evolution of French, where a far-reaching grammaticalization process took place. Syntagmatically, all determiners end up in the NP-initial position as the only available syntactic slot, contributing to the highly configurational NP pattern characteristic of Modern French. From a paradigmatic viewpoint, determiners no longer correspond to a syntactic function, but to a separate morpho-syntactic category. We also evaluate to what extent this evolution took place in two other Romance languages, Italian and Spanish. Through the analysis of this particular evolution, based on parallel corpora consisting of a Latin text and its translations in Old, Middle, and Modern French on the one hand, and in Spanish and Italian on the other, our study also provides evidence for more general mechanisms, analogy in particular, at work in the creation of new paradigms.

Cet article est consacré à l’émergence d'un nouveau paradigme grammatical en français et dans les langues romanes, celui de la détermination nominale. Le latin n'avait pas d'articles, alors que les possessifs, les démonstratifs et les indéfinis, tout en pouvant servir de déterminant nominal, étaient par ailleurs utilisés comme pronom ou adjectif. La détermination nominale en tant que catégorie morpho-syntaxique autonome était donc inexistante. Nous examinons d'abord comment a eu lieu, au cours de l’évolution diachronique du français, un processus important de grammaticalisation. Syntagmatiquement, tous les déterminants se retrouvent dans la position initiale du NP comme seule position syntaxique disponible, ce qui contribue au caractère hautement configurationnel du constituant nominal du français moderne. D'un point de vue paradigmatique, les déterminants ne correspondent plus à une fonction syntaxique, mais à une catégorie morphosyntaxique distincte. Nous évaluons ensuite dans quelle mesure cette évolution a eu lieu dans deux autres langues romanes, l'italien et l'espagnol. Notre analyse est basée sur des corpus parallèles comprenant un texte latin et ses traductions en français médiéval et moderne, d'une part, et ses traductions en espagnol et en italien, d'autre part. Elle met en évidence des mécanismes et des motivations plus généraux, notamment l'analogie, qui sont à l’œuvre dans la création de nouveaux paradigmes.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
anne.carlier@univ-lille3.fr
beatrice.lamiroy@kuleuven.be
Footnotes
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Part of this research has been carried out in the framework of the ANR-DFG project PaLaFra (ANR-14-FRAL-0006). We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their detailed and useful comments on the submitted version. All remaining errors are of course ours.

Footnotes
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