Edited By Emmanuelle Labeau and Jacques Bres
Aude REBOTIER French Participle Agreement with avoir: current trends as an indication of grammaticalization 115
French Participle Agreement with avoir: Current trends as an indication of grammaticalization1 Aude REBOTIER, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Covarius (Paris IV) and CIRLEP (Reims) Associating the auxiliary to be or to have with a past participle is considered as one of the ways to create new past tenses in languages (Bybee et al. 1994, Leiss 1992). This process of grammaticalization has reached different stages in different languages. In many ways, the French perfect seems to behave like a tense, that is, that the process of grammaticalization is over. Yet the agreement of the participle, especially with the object, is obviously on the decline. This ongo- ing evolution could be explained by the fact that the grammaticalization is not yet completed. The relationship between grammaticalization and loss of agreement has already been hypothesized, but has not been supported by a corpus study that would show how and in which contexts agreement tends to disappear. There is evidence that some syntactic and semantic criteria may favour agreement while others make it more difficult. This paper aims to investigate in which cases agreement is missing, and whether the ob- served correlations support the hypothesis that the evolution of agreement in the French perfect indicates an ongoing grammaticalization. I shall first give an overview of the criteria of grammaticalization in the case of perfects, and estimate how advanced the French perfect is in this process. In the second part, I will present the corpus study and the general results. And finally I will focus...
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