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Latin Antecedents of French Causative Faire

Series:

Jeffrey T. Chamberlain

The factitive construction faire faire quelque chose à quelqu'un, a central problem in French syntax, differs in structure from its counterpart in Classical Latin, which typically expressed causation by means of a subordinate clause with its verb in the subjunctive. This examination of causative constructions in representative Late Latin and Old French texts offers evidence that the infinitive construction characteristic of the Romance languages in fact originated in Latin and was widespread by the sixth century. Additional syntactic features of the causative in French, however, including the generalization of the indirect object à quelqu'un and the fusion of faire with its dependent infinitive, are shown to be Romance developments that are not generalized in French until the fifteenth century.
Contents: Causation in Latin and in French - Examples in Latin (1st to 11th centuries) - Examples in Old French (11th to 15th centuries) - Chronological summary.