Part ofOn Spoken French: An Ashby Reader
William J. Ashby
[Studies in Language Companion Series 226] 2023
► pp. 293–320
It is argued that two variables of Modern French (the negative particle ne ‘old not’ and the consonant l of clitic pronouns such as il ‘(he); 3sg.m.nom-; 3.nom-; iprs-’) are indeed indices of ongoing linguistic change, even though this change appears to be of long duration. This conclusion is based not only on the distribution of the variables in a corpus of natural French discourse, but also on independent linguistic evidence, together with the available historical record. In the absence of adequate ‘real-time’ data, variationist analysis yielding synchronic, ‘apparent-time’ data provides a useful means of charting the drift of the language.