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Deixis and subjectivity : the semantics of demonstratives in Old French (9th-12th century)

Abstract : Several recent studies have led to a re-examination of the semantic values of demonstratives in many languages where the traditional (distal vs. proximal) interpretation had been considered as accurate, even if it did not account for all attested uses. This is particularly true for the oldest period of French (ninth century–end twelfth century). In Old French, demonstratives are organized around the opposition between two paradigms, CIST and CIL. These were not distinguished from one another by their grammatical category, as in Modern French, since both forms could function as either pronoun or determiner. Rather, they were differentiated in terms of their meaning.Several attempts have been made to account for the difference between the CIST and CIL series. We show that none of the previous hypotheses has been totally satisfactory. Our own interpretation is based neither on a spatio-temporal conception of deictics (the traditional interpretation), but on the pragmatic analysis of the use of demonstratives in the texts of this earlier period of French (ninth century–twelfth century), in terms of ‘speaker's sphere'. We will argue that this approach alone can account for those uses in Old French which have posed a problem until now
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00425272
Contributor : Christiane Marchello-Nizia <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - 4:11:35 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - 8:17:48 AM

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Christiane Marchello-Nizia. Deixis and subjectivity : the semantics of demonstratives in Old French (9th-12th century). Journal of Pragmatics, Elsevier, 2004, Vol. 37 (N° 1), pp.43- 68. ⟨10.1016/j.pragma.2004.04.008⟩. ⟨halshs-00425272⟩

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