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Evolution in Romance Verbal Systems


Edited By Emmanuelle Labeau and Jacques Bres

The present book focuses on evolution in the Romance verbal systems. In the wake of Bybee’s and Dahl’s studies, it advocates the benefits of adopting a cross-linguistic and diachronic approach to the study of linguistic phenomena. Within the scope of the Romance family, similar cross-linguistic evolution paths are explored, as related languages at different stages of grammaticalisation may shed light on each other’s developments. A diachronic dimension also proves desirable for several reasons. First, a diachronic approach significantly enhances the explanatory power of linguistic theory by showing how a specific form came to convey a certain function. Second, change is better revealed in diachronic movement than in static synchrony. Third, meaning constantly evolves and a one-off probe will be less revealing than a sustained study through time. Finally and most importantly, similarities across languages appear more obviously in diachrony. All the chapters of this volume participate in their own way to that crosslinguistic and diachronic approach and help make it an original, focused contribution that covers all main Romance languages.


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Jacques BRES & Emmanuelle LABEAU About the illustrative use of the aller + infinitive periphrasis in French 171


About the illustrative use of the aller + infinitive periphrasis in French Jacques BRES, Praxiling, UMR 5267 CNRS-Montpellier III & Emmanuelle LABEAU, Aston University 1. Introduction Typological studies (Hagège 1993, Bybee et al. 1994, Dahl 2000, Bourdin 2008 among many others) have shown a tendency for spatial elements (such as movement verbs) to grammaticalize into temporal expressions. The case of aller + infinitive in French is a typical success story with the periphrasis being awarded the status of a future tense in many contempo- rary descriptions. Yet, the future value is far from exhausting the discursive uses of aller. Indeed, we have identified (Bres & Labeau 2012) a number of values for that periphrasis: (a) Ulterior: (1) Le train va / allait partir. The train go-PRES-3S / go-PAST-IMPERF-3S to leave. [The train is / was about to leave.]1 (b) Narrative: (2) Son tiers-mondisme va évoluer vers l’islam. Lors d’un voyage en Iran, il va se convertir et devenir un ‘intellectuel musulman’. (corpus nécrologie, Labeau 2009) His support to the Third World go- PRES-3S to evolve towards Islam. During a trip in Iran, he go- PRES-3S to convert and to become a ‘Muslim intellectual’. [His support to the third world evolved towards Islam. During a trip in Iran, he converted and set about to become a ‘Muslim intellectual’.] 1 All glosses and translations are ours. 172 Jacques Bres & Emmanuelle Labeau (c) Extraordinary: (3) … et cet imbécile il est allé se rappeler ce que je lui avais promis…. (conversation) … and...

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