Edited by Lena Karssenberg, Karen Lahousse, Béatrice Lamiroy, Stefania Marzo and Ana Drobnjakovic
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 32] 2018
► pp. 144–170
The syntactic and discursive status of c’ est comme ça que (this is how) in spoken and written French
Several recent studies devoted to French clefts involving a pronominal/adverbial morpheme such as pour ça (for that), là (there), ainsi (like this), alors (then) and comme ça (like this) demonstrate that these are likely to behave in two distinct ways, one of them being somewhat “non-prototypical” in comparison with the most commonly described narrow focus clefts. The subject of our article is to deepen the examination of c’ est comme ça que sequences (lit: it is like this that, “this is how”), since they have not yet received detailed attention as to their use in modern French. The 8,600,000 word corpus which was used indicates that such forms are considerably more frequent in spoken than in written data. After recalling some of the major syntactic characteristics of clefts, we will suggest that two distinct types of c’ est comme ça que sequences must be identified: the first type corresponds to the most prototypical clefts endowed with a “contrastive” effect related to the expression of manner; the second type, which will be described in greater detail, cannot be viewed as a cleft but rather as a specific discourse connector, which speakers mostly use in narrative texts, in order to introduce a consequence of the set of facts previously mentioned.