Vol. 6 (2019)
ARTICLES

Punteggiatura e dislocazioni a sinistra in francese. Dati quantitativi e interpretazione

Angela Ferrari
Universität Basel
Published April 20, 2020

Keywords:

punctuation, left dislocation, online newspaper language, information structure.

Abstract

The analysis, based on a 300.000 words corpus of newspaper articles published online (https://contrast-it.philhist.unibas.ch/en/corpora/contrast-it-corpus/), aims at defining how and to what extent modern French marks left-dislocated constituents that are referred back by a clitic pronoun with a comma. To this end, a paradigm of potentially relevant criteria has been examined, taking into account morphosyntactic, pragma-textual, informational and cognitive features of the construction. The result is less multifaceted than one can imagine, from all the relevant points of view. For example, in 84,7% of the occurrences the syntactic subject is dislocated, often referred back by the pronoun ce, with several grammaticalization effects. Also, the comma is frequently employed after the dislocated element, whatever semantic, informational and textual properties the construction displays. In the corpus, the presence or absence of the comma follows from morphosyntactic factors, i.e. the dislocation mechanism itself and the morphologic nature of the left-dislocated element. The corpus-based research on left dislocation has also brought to light a syntactic-punctuational construction that is superficially similar to dislocation, but structurally and informationally very different, exemplified by: la seconde, elle, a inscrit le 6e but.

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