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DES SEGMENTATIONS PARTICULIÈRES D'UN INCUNABLE (1488) À L'ÉCRITURE DU FRANÇAIS EN UNITÉS LEXICALES ET GRAMMATICALES

Liselotte Biedermann-Pasques
Langue Française
No. 119, Segments graphiques du français: Pratiques et normalisations dans l'histoire (SEPTEMBRE 1998), pp. 69-87
Published by: Armand Colin
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41559357
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
DES SEGMENTATIONS PARTICULIÈRES D'UN INCUNABLE (1488) À L'ÉCRITURE DU FRANÇAIS EN UNITÉS LEXICALES ET GRAMMATICALES
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Abstract

From the analysis of word-boundaries in an early printed book, it appears that, at that time, joined word-forms are, for the most part, due to elision (4.44 % of the sample examined, out of a total of 5.13 joined forms). We try to show how these joined written forms, which correspond to oral elided forms, can be explained by the general rules of French prosody : by the position of the rhythmic accent at the end of each rhythmic/semantic group, and by the regular recurrence of this accent, through the dynamics of the oral language, which is represented in writing by the joining of unstressed, elided elements to the beginning of the next word that follows, in order to produce a single written form. The appearance and the development of the use of the apostrophe in French (borrowed from Greek, where this sign noted elision), between the first third of the 16th century to the end of the 17th, is symptomatic of a movement towards a more grammatical analysis of the French language, and reflects the necessity of distinguishing more clearly between written lexical units and written grammatical units. In a general theory of writing systems, it can be said that, in the use of the apostrophe, two different principles are at work : the phonetic writing principle, since the apostrophe notes (oral) elision, and the visiographic/semiographic principle, since the apostrophe allows lexical and grammatical units to be distinguished, thus making the task of word-recognition easier for the reader.

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