Article published in:Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2013: Selected papers from 'Going Romance' Amsterdam 2013
Edited by Enoch O. Aboh, Jeannette Schaeffer and Petra Sleeman
[Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 8] 2015
► pp. 103–118
Deriving the readings of French être en train de
French être en train de (êetd, lit. ‘be.inf in the midst of’), generally considered to be the French progressive, has a reading in which the speaker expresses a negative attitude toward the described event. However, not all readings have this expressive meaning. Curiously, the “neutral” reading is not always felicitous. We consider and reject possible analyses in which the expressive meaning arises due to Gricean inference or due to there being two lexical entries for êetd. We propose that, like ordinary progressives (Portner, 1998), êetd has a modal at-issue meaning with a circumstantial modal base and a stereotypical ordering source. In addition, we argue, it has a modal conventional implicature with either a stereotypical or a bouletic ordering source. In this way we account for the behavior of êetd, and raise certain questions as to how conventional implicatures might be related to grammaticalization of aspect.
Published online: 02 December 2015
2002/2009 The Semantics of the Future. MIT PhD thesis, 2002, revised and published as Copley, Bridget. 2009. The Semantics of the Future. Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics, New York: Routledge.
Do-Hurinville, Danh Thanh
2006 “Progressive Stative Sentences in French.” Talk presented at the Deuxième Atelier Franco-Allemand de Linguistique de l’École Doctorale Internationale Stuttgart/Paris 8.
Patard, Adeline, and Astrid de Wit
2011 “The Present Progressive in French in Comparison with English”. In The Proceedings of CHRONOS 10 – 10th International Conference on Tense, Aspect, Modality and Evidentiality.