Edited by Chiyo Nishida and Jean-Pierre Y. Montreuil
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 275] 2006
► pp. 143–
Cross-linguistic studies have shown that various adverbial subordinating conjunctions can also function to introduce independent assertions. In the domain of causal conjunctions, there is a striking cross-linguistic trend for subordinating ‘because’ to supersede the corresponding coordinating conjunction. This study presents a corpus-based analysis of the use of French parce que in spoken discourse. It looks at the full array of uses of parce que and analyzes them within the information-structure framework of Lambrecht 1994. It shows that parce que clauses are always focal, whereas the main clause can be either focal or topical. If it is topical, the two clauses can be prosodically integrated into a single unit. If it is focal, the two clauses must be separated by some kind of break, allowing the hearer to reinterpret the matrix proposition as a presupposed topic before the causal proposition is processed. This obligatory break can be formally realized by overt lexical material or by a pause, following an utterance-final falling intonation contour on p.
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