The role of (historical) pragmatics in the use of response particles
The case of French
This paper studies the synchronic uses and diachronic evolution of a small set of so-called “response particles” in French, viz. the contemporary forms oui ‘yes’, si ‘yes’, and non ‘no’, and their historical sources, as well as a by now largely obsolete fourth particle nenni ‘no’. Among current models of response particle usage, the leading syntactic model is argued to be fundamentally flawed, while the leading semantic model reveals itself incapable of providing an empirically accurate account of the present-day uses of the French particles. Instead, (historical) pragmatics is shown to constitute an indispensable component of such an account. This is hypothesized to be true not just for French, but across languages. In addition, analysis of the French data throws (further) doubt on the explanatory power of the concept of synchronic functional paradigms.
Published online: 30 June 2020
Perseus Digital Library
Cole, Peter & Jerry L. Morgan
eds. Syntax and semantics (vol. 3). New York: Academic Press.
Gordon, David & George Lakoff
Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard
König, Ekkehard & Peter Siemund
Pope, Emily Norwood
Reid, Thomas Bertram Wallace
Roelofsen, Floris & Donka Farkas
Roulet, Eddy, Antoine Auchlin, Jacques Moeschler, Christian Rubattel & Marianne Schelling
Sadock, Jerrold M. & Arnold M. Zwicky
Wallage, Phillip & Win van der Wurff