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To be or not to be informational: Preverbal complements in Medieval French V2 configurations

Abstract : It is widely assumed that Medieval French V2 constructions relate to an informational value (Labelle & Hirschbühler 2018 i.a.). This assumption is however rarely tested by quantitative studies, which tend to rely on heterogeneous textual material. The purpose of this paper is to document the informational value of preverbal complements that associate with (unambiguous) V2 configurations. I use a novel, homogeneous corpus of prose legal texts from the Normandy region over the period 1150-1475. Defining a decision tree, I determine the informational value of V2 complements, specifically whether they represent old information (explicit mentioned, anaphoric, accommodated or inferable) or new information. A categorical discourse-old value is evidenced for preverbal V2 complements for the period between 1150 and 1236. The loss of the categorical informational value precedes the decline of V2 as a productive configuration with the emergence of formulaic uses. The detailed documentation of the informational value of historical configurations, based on an explicit, replicable method applied to a homogeneous corpus, contributes to the understanding of the driving role of informational structure for syntactic change.
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Contributor : Pierre Larrivée Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Friday, July 26, 2019 - 5:55:07 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - 11:14:09 AM

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Pierre Larrivée. To be or not to be informational: Preverbal complements in Medieval French V2 configurations. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics (2016-2021), Ubiquity Press, 2019, Art. 85, 4 (1), pp.1-19. ⟨10.5334/gjgl.851⟩. ⟨hal-02196101⟩

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