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Approches théoriques, valeur en langue et emplois du ne dit 'explétif' en français classique

Nathalie FOURNIER
Langue Française
No. 143, La négation en français classique (SEPTEMBRE 2004), pp. 48-68
Published by: Armand Colin
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41559138
Page Count: 21
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Approches théoriques, valeur en langue et emplois du ne dit 'explétif' en français classique
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Abstract

This paper deals with expletive negation, ne, in 17th century French. By ‘expletive’ ne, we usually mean the use of ne, in dependant clauses (comparative clauses: il est plus grand que n'était son frère, or noun clauses: je crains qu'il ne vienne), where it can commute with zéro, but not with full negation ne... pas. The first part of the paper examines the theoretical treatments of expletive ne, and especially its relation to negative ne (used alone or with pas); in case of a unitary treatment of the morpheme ne, two positions are possible: either deny to ne any full semantic value and consider it as a conditioned element, dependant of other contextual markers; or attribute to ne a basis semantic value, either negative (Guillaume) or “discordantielle” (Damourette et Pichon), which is responsible of different contextual values. The second and third parts, working on classical French corpora (first comparative clauses, then noun clauses), proves that expletive ne is used in much more delimitated contexts than in contemporary French, and its competition with zero is very limited. The paper examines which are the contextual factors correlated to the use of expletive ne or zero, and which semantic interpretation can be proposed when they can commute in similar contexts.

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