From prepositional phrase to hesitation marker
The semantic and pragmatic evolution of French enfin
The adverb enfin (lit.: ‘at last’) is pragmatically highly polyfunctional in contemporary French, and previous studies disagree on its proper semantic representation. The present paper traces enfin’s diachronic development from the earliest French texts, where only the temporal, etymological sense of the adverb is found, to the present day, where non-temporal and discourse-oriented senses abound, arguing that the adverb should be seen as polysemous and that it can profitably be described within the framework presented in Geeraerts (1997). It is concluded that present-day enfin has three distinct “core” senses, and several peripheral uses derived from these core senses, and that, overall, its evolution provides support for the general tendencies of semantic change identified in Traugott and Dasher (2002).
Published online: 22 February 2005
Cited by 13 other publications
Degand, Liesbeth & Jacqueline Evers-Vermeul
Petit, Mélanie, François Nemo & Camille Létang
Traugott, Elizabeth Closs
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