The change from pronoun to clitic to prefix and the rise of null subjects in spoken Swiss French

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/289206
Title:
The change from pronoun to clitic to prefix and the rise of null subjects in spoken Swiss French
Author:
Fonseca-Greber, Bonnibeth Beale
Issue Date:
2000
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
This dissertation explores a typological puzzle within the Romance language family: How is it that French could have evolved so divergently from the rest of the family that it has apparently lost two of the most characteristic features of Romance languages, i.e., (1) a highly inflected verb paradigm and (2) optional nominal and pronominal subjects? Using a ±60,000-word corpus of Everyday Spoken Swiss French (ESSF), comprising 14 educated, middle-class speakers conversing with family and friends, I examine the subject clitics and subject NPs from the theoretical framework of grammaticalization, since the data are gradient and represent change in progress. This type of data collection is crucial given the increasingly diglossic situation that exists between Spoken and Written French. The corpus shows that the subject clitics have fully morphologized 100% into prefixes in all but a few, predictably trailing, environments of the 3rd person. Thus the former clitics are no longer subject pronouns but person/number inflectional morphemes on the verb. To fill the void in the subject pronoun paradigm, a set of true, personal pronouns (moi, toi, lui, etc.) has moved in. But they, like other full NP subjects, are highly optional. Just as in Spanish and Italian, these overt subjects are used only sparingly, i.e., for contrast, emphasis, and disambiguation. When they do appear, they are most likely to occur pre-verbally, thus maintaining the traditional SVO word order of French, although alternate word orders also occur. The redevelopment of a highly inflected verb paradigm, albeit prefixal, not suffixal, and the consequent restructuring of the personal pronoun paradigm has allowed for the reemergence of null pronominal and nominal subjects in ESSF. The corpus also reveals a new, markedness-driven, morphological change starting in certain 3Sg. impersonal verbs, i.e., the development of a zero-morpheme. Based on these findings, two classic tests from generative grammar, Montalbetti's (1984) Overt Pronoun Constraint and Chomsky's (1981, 1982) Pro-drop Parameter are applied and show that ESSF behaves like other Romance pro-drop languages. This reanalysis of ESSF is discussed from the perspective of Romance typology, French Creoles, and first and second language acquisition. Finally, pedagogical implications are proposed.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Keywords:
Language, Linguistics.; Language, Modern.
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Second Language Acquisition and Teaching
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Lehrer, Adrienne; Waugh, Linda

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.titleThe change from pronoun to clitic to prefix and the rise of null subjects in spoken Swiss Frenchen_US
dc.creatorFonseca-Greber, Bonnibeth Bealeen_US
dc.contributor.authorFonseca-Greber, Bonnibeth Bealeen_US
dc.date.issued2000en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation explores a typological puzzle within the Romance language family: How is it that French could have evolved so divergently from the rest of the family that it has apparently lost two of the most characteristic features of Romance languages, i.e., (1) a highly inflected verb paradigm and (2) optional nominal and pronominal subjects? Using a ±60,000-word corpus of Everyday Spoken Swiss French (ESSF), comprising 14 educated, middle-class speakers conversing with family and friends, I examine the subject clitics and subject NPs from the theoretical framework of grammaticalization, since the data are gradient and represent change in progress. This type of data collection is crucial given the increasingly diglossic situation that exists between Spoken and Written French. The corpus shows that the subject clitics have fully morphologized 100% into prefixes in all but a few, predictably trailing, environments of the 3rd person. Thus the former clitics are no longer subject pronouns but person/number inflectional morphemes on the verb. To fill the void in the subject pronoun paradigm, a set of true, personal pronouns (moi, toi, lui, etc.) has moved in. But they, like other full NP subjects, are highly optional. Just as in Spanish and Italian, these overt subjects are used only sparingly, i.e., for contrast, emphasis, and disambiguation. When they do appear, they are most likely to occur pre-verbally, thus maintaining the traditional SVO word order of French, although alternate word orders also occur. The redevelopment of a highly inflected verb paradigm, albeit prefixal, not suffixal, and the consequent restructuring of the personal pronoun paradigm has allowed for the reemergence of null pronominal and nominal subjects in ESSF. The corpus also reveals a new, markedness-driven, morphological change starting in certain 3Sg. impersonal verbs, i.e., the development of a zero-morpheme. Based on these findings, two classic tests from generative grammar, Montalbetti's (1984) Overt Pronoun Constraint and Chomsky's (1981, 1982) Pro-drop Parameter are applied and show that ESSF behaves like other Romance pro-drop languages. This reanalysis of ESSF is discussed from the perspective of Romance typology, French Creoles, and first and second language acquisition. Finally, pedagogical implications are proposed.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
dc.subjectLanguage, Linguistics.en_US
dc.subjectLanguage, Modern.en_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineSecond Language Acquisition and Teachingen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorLehrer, Adrienneen_US
dc.contributor.advisorWaugh, Lindaen_US
dc.identifier.proquest9992079en_US
dc.identifier.bibrecord.b41167089en_US
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