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Usage and processing of the French causal connectives ‘car’ and ‘parce que’

  • SANDRINE ZUFFEREY (a1), WILLEM MAK (a2), SARA VERBRUGGE (a3) and TED SANDERS (a2)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

The difference between ‘car’ and ‘parce que’ is often explained in the literature by the type of causal relation (objective or subjective) that each connective prototypically conveys. Recent corpus studies have demonstrated, however, that this distinction does not hold in speech, and is fluctuating in writing. In this article, we present new empirical data to assess the status of this pair of connectives. In Experiment 1, we test French-speakers’ intuitions about ‘car’ and ‘parce que’ in a completion task, and compare these results with those of a similar experiment in Dutch. In Experiment 2, we measure the processing of objective and subjective causal relations containing ‘car’ and ‘parce que’ in an online reading experiment. Experiments 1 and 2 lead us to conclude that ‘car’ has to a large extent lost its specific procedural meaning. In the literature, the difference between ‘car’ and ‘parce que’ is also linked to a difference of register, ‘car’ being perceived as a formal equivalent of ‘parce que’. We assess the strength of this distinction in Experiment 3, by means of a completion task involving sentences from different registers. Results confirm the effect of register as a distinguishing factor between ‘car’ and ‘parce que’.

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Address for correspondence: e-mail: sandrine.zufferey@rom.unibe.ch
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Journal of French Language Studies
  • ISSN: 0959-2695
  • EISSN: 1474-0079
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-french-language-studies
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