Vol. 1 (2014)

La parataxe dans le parlé spontané et dans l’écrit littéraire

Published February 18, 2015


The article argues that parataxis is a specific syntactic relation, since it holds between clauses and phrases within one major textual unit. The research is based on spoken and written (literary) corpora, and reports on the quantitative and qualitative differences in both modalities. In speech, the major textual unit is the Utterance, which corresponds to one pragmatic act, and the onset of paratactic relations follows from its information structure. When the linguistic content is distributed through various textual units (60% of utterances), it is combined in accordance to paratactic relations and does not follow compositional syntax. In writing, the major textual unit is the Period, which is identified by strong punctuation and does not correspond to a pragmatic act. The content within the period follows compositional syntax and mainly corresponds to one proposition with one main clause. However, corpus analysis shows that roughly 25% of periods comprise more than one main clause, linked by weak punctuation or lexical connectors. These clauses have independent modality and therefore are not strictly compositional within a single syntactic configuration. In these cases, the clauses stand in a paratactic relation.