LINGUIST List 5.413

Mon 11 Apr 1994

Disc: Generics

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  1. Bert Peeters, Re: 5.399 Sum: Generics
  2. Knud Lambrecht, Re: 5.399 Sum: Generics

Message 1: Re: 5.399 Sum: Generics

Date: Sun, 10 Apr 1994 18:53:04 Re: 5.399 Sum: Generics
From: Bert Peeters <Bert.Peetersmodlang.utas.edu.au>
Subject: Re: 5.399 Sum: Generics

>Date: Mon, 4 Apr 1994 17:57:58 -0500
>From: Michael Kac <kaccs.umn.edu>

>Julie Auger -- who also drew my attention to Dahl's paper --
>argues in a paper of her own (see References, below)that in
>colloquial French the distal demonstrative pronoun *c,a* has
>developed into a generic marker as used in sentences like
>
> (1) Les hommes, c,a parlent tout le temps.
> the men that talks all the time
> 'Men talk all the time.'
>
> (2) Les hommes, ils parlent tout le temps.
> they
> (ambiguous as bet. generic and nongeneric interp.)
>
>In her analysis, *c,a* is associated syntactically with the verb but
>forces a generic construal on the subject.

And of course, since *c,a* is associated syntactically with the verb, the
latter should be singular (*parle*). On this construction, see also Nicolas
Ruwet, *Syntax and human experience* (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1991),
ch.3, par. 1.3., and Maria Manoliu-Manea, "French neuter demonstratives:
evidence for a pragma-semantic definition of pronouns", in *Variation and
Change in French. Essays presented to Rebecca Posner on the occasion of her
sixtieth birthday* (John N> Green and Wendy Ayres-Bennett, eds, London:
Routledge, 1990).
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Message 2: Re: 5.399 Sum: Generics

Date: Fri, 8 Apr 1994 22:12:55 -Re: 5.399 Sum: Generics
From: Knud Lambrecht <lambrecemx.cc.utexas.edu>
Subject: Re: 5.399 Sum: Generics

Re: generic pronoun in French

Julie Auger correctly, in my view, analyzes

(1) Les hommes, c,a parle tout le temps

as containing a "generic" C,A. (Incidentally, the verb form should be as
in my (1) above, not as in Michael Kac's quoted version (*c,a parlent.)
In my 1981 monograph on topic constructions in spoken French I made an
analogous observation, and I gave the minimal pair

(2) Elle est ou, la salade?
(3) C'est ou, la salade?

where in (2) the speaker inquires about a particular head of lettuce
while in (3) she might inquire, e.g., about the lettuce section in a
supermarket.

I would say, though, that it might be a bit misleading to call the
pronoun C,A in (1) or (3) a "generic pronoun". Rather, C,A has this
meaning only within the particular grammatical construction (NP ca VP),
i.e. we have not a *generic pronoun* but a *generic construction*. The
distinction is relevant within Construction Grammar.

Knud Lambrecht
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