Les constituants introduits par des marqueurs de thématisation en français face aux compléments spatio-temporels antéposés : une analyse prosodique


This paper discusses the prosodic properties of sentence-initial spatio-temporal adverbials andof PPs introduced by so-called 'thematic markers' (TMCs), such as en ce qui concerne ('as for') or dupoint de vue de ('with regard to'). Their function is to indicate the aboutness-topic (a.o. Reinhart 1981,Gundel 1989, Lambrecht 1994) (1) or the topic Chinese style (Chafe 1976) (2).(1) Concernant le programme, il doit différer selon les universités et les profs.(2) Mais quand on peut il faut impérativement regarder BBC News. En ce moment, au niveau de l'info,ils sont vraiment au top. (YCCQA, De Smet 2009)Mertens (2008) hypothesizes that in certain syntactic constructions such as left dislocations,(pseudo-)clefts and certain adjuncts, the articulation between the left detached element (the dislocatedelement, the focus of the cleft, the adjunct) and the main clause is followed by a major prosodicboundary, i.e. they end on a relative high pitch level. It appears from our corpus that most TMCs end onsuch a major prosodic boundary (73%). As for sentence-initial spatio-temporal PPs, only 41% end on amajor prosodic boundary.There are two important differences between TMCs and sentence-initial spatio-temporal PPswhich explain that a strong prosodic boundary at the end of a TMC is more frequent than at the end ofsentence-initial spatio-temporal adverbials.Semantically, sentence-initial spatio-temporal adverbials always limit the application range ofthe main clause, but not all TMCs affect the truth values of the proposition. Some can be omitted withoutchanging the signification of the clause.On the syntactic level, sentence-initial spatio-temporal adverbials can always appear in thescope of a cleft or can be moved towards the end of the utterance without the proposition becomesungrammatical. TMCs which affect the truth values of the proposition can also appear in the scope ofthe cleft or can be moved to the end of the proposition. TMCs which do not affect the truth values of theproposition do not allow these syntactic tests.Possibility of clefting, movement and specification of the main clause are used as tests (a.o.Melis 1983, Blanche-Benveniste et al. 1990) to show whether a constituent is linked to the verb phrase.This paper shows that sentence-initial spatial-temporal PPs are linked to the verb phrase, but that this isnot the case for all TMCs. These syntactic and semantic observations explain the high frequency of thestrong prosodic boundary at the end of a TMC.

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