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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17269

Title: Dynamic Two-place Indirect Verbs in French: A Synchronic and Diachronic Study in Variation and Change of Valence
Authors: Troberg, Michelle
Advisor: Roberge, Yves
Department: French Language and Literature
Keywords: French
diachronic syntax
argument structure
Issue Date: 26-Feb-2009
Abstract: This dissertation provides an account of an often-noted change in the history of French: the shift in the expression of the internal argument of a small class of dynamic two-place verbs best represented by aider ‘to help’ from “dative”, i.e., as an indirect object with the preposition à, to “accusative”, i.e., as a direct object with no preposition. The change does not appear to be correlated with a change in the meaning of the verbs. Traditional commentators have viewed it as random, affecting only a few lexical items, rather than systematic. One of the central results of this thesis is that the valency change affects a class of some twenty verbs at approximately the same period and it follows the same time course. Moreover, three properties distinguish this class of verbs from all others taking indirect objects in French: following current ideas about the syntactic manifestation of verbs and their arguments, they have a non relational argument structure, they do not possess lexical directionality, and they select for first or third order entities. These facts suggest that a structural change underlies the change in the realization of the internal argument. Adopting Lightfoot’s (1999, 2006) “cue-based” approach to language change, it is proposed that the valency change is a result of the loss of a functional item encoding directionality. Directionality is a derived property in Medieval French, available in particular to prepositions. It is demonstrated that when à was able to encode direction, it was also able to license first and third order complements in a broader range of contexts, namely, with aider-type verbs. The loss of this functional item is also correlated with several other structural changes that occurred in the 16th and 17th century.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17269
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of French - Doctoral theses

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