French – Paper V: Linguistic Studies

General Reading List

  • Harris, M. & Vincent, N. (1997) The Romance Languages. London: Routledge.
    chapters 1 & 6.
  • Battye, A. & Hintze, M.-A. (1992) The French Language Today. London: Routledge.
  • Désirat, C. & Hordé, T. (1988) La langue française au vingtième siècle. Bordas.
  • Jones, M. (1996) Foundations of French Syntax. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Tranel, B. (1987) The Sounds of French: an introduction. Cambridge: CUP.

You could do with a bit of historical background as well on this paper, and may find the following helpful:

  • Harris, M. (1978) The Evolution of French Syntax – a comparative approach. London: Longman. (very good book!)
  • Lodge, R.A. (1993) French: from Dialect to Standard. London: Routledge.
  • Price, G. (1971) The French Language: present and past. London: Edward Arnold.
  • Rickard, P. (1989) A History of the French Language. London and New York: Routledge.

And if you have not done prelim linguistics, you may well find it useful to refer to one of the general introductory textbooks such as:

  • Fromkin, V. and Rodman, R. (1993) An Introduction to Language, 5th or 6th edition. Orlando: Harcourt Brace.
  • Atkinson, M. Kilby, D. and Roca, I. (1988) Foundations of General Linguistics, 2nd edition. Allen and Unwin.
  • Akmajian, A. Demers, R, Farmer, A. and Harnish, R. (1990). An Introduction to Language and Communication, 3rd or 4th edition. MIT Press.

On contemporary French:

  • Sanders, C. (ed.) (1993) French Today: language in its social context. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Jones, M.A. (1996) Foundations of French Syntax. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Wise, H. (1997) The Vocabulary of Modern French: origins, structure and function. London: Routledge.

The standard descriptive grammars of French are often useful sources:

  • Grevisse, M. (1980) Le Bon Usage: grammaire française, avec des remarques sur la langue française d’aujourd’hui. (11e édition) Gembloux: Duculot. (The last edition revised by the original author.)
  • Grevisse, M. (1993) Le Bon Usage: grammaire française, avec des remarques sur la langue française d’aujourd’hui. (13e édition, par André Goosse) Paris & Louvain-la-Neuve: Duculot. (Revised by author’s son-in-law. Differs substantially from previous editions.)

On French dialects:

  • Guiraud, P. (1968 and subsequent reprints) Patios et dialectes français. Paris: PUF. (Collection ‘Que sais-je?’)
  • Chaurand, J. (1972) Introduction à la dialectologie française . Paris: Bordas.

French Liaison

Things to read first:

  • Delattre, P. (1966) Studies in French and Comparative Phonetics. The Hague, Mouton. (This contains work from 1947, 1955 and 1956 which is old, but worth looking at.)
  • Encreve, P. (1988) La Liaison avec et sans enchainement. Paris: Seuil. (One of the most comprehensive surveys of the topic.)
  • Fouché, P. (1959) Traité de prononciation française (2e édition). Paris: Klincksieck. (Especially chapter VIII.)
  • Green, John N. & Hintze, Marie-Anne (1990) ‘Variation and Change in French linking phenomena’, in Green & Ayres-Bennett (eds.) Variation and Change in French: essays presented to Rebecca Posner on the occasion of her sixtieth birthday. London: Routledge, pp. 61-88.
  • Tranel, B. (1981) The Sounds of French: an introduction. Cambridge: CUP. Chapter 11 ‘Liaison’, pp.168-190. (A good introduction.)

Further material:

  • Clements, G. & Keyser, S. (1983) CV phonology : a generative theory of the syllable. MIT Press.
  • Durand, J. (1986) ‘French liaison, floating segments and other matters in a dependency framework’, in Durand, J. (ed.) Dependency and Non-linear Phonology. Beckenham: Croom Helm. pp.161-201.
  • Martinon, P. (1929) Comment on prononce le français (3e édition). Paris: Larousse.
  • Morin, Y-C. & Kaye, J.D. (1982) ‘The syntactic bases for French liaison’, in Journal of Linguistics 18, pp. 291-330.
  • Schane, S. (1968) French Phonology and Morphology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. (Now outdated, but a good example of elegant argument in ‘classical’ generative phonology.)
  • Schane, S. (1974) ‘There is no French truncation rule’, in Joe Campbell, R., Goldin M.G. and Wang M.C. (eds.) Linguistic studies in Romance Languages. Washington D.C.:Georgetown University Press. (A refutation of the arguments put forward in the previous reference!)
  • Selkirk, E.O. (1977) ‘La liaison en français et la notation X’ ’, in Ronat, M. & Chomsky N. (eds.) Langue: théorie générative étendue. Paris: Hermann.
  • Tranel, B. (1981) Concreteness in Generative Phonology: evidence from French. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Tranel, B. (1992) ‘On suppletion and French liaison’, in Hirschbühler P. & Koerner, K. (eds.) Romance Languages and Modern Linguistic Theory. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins. pp.269-308.
  • Tranel, B. (1995) ‘Current issues in French phonology: liaison and position theories’, in Goldsmith, J.A. (ed.) The Handbook of Phonological Theory. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 798-816
  • Tranel, B. (1995) ‘Exceptionality in Optimality Theory and final consonants in French’, in Zagona, K. (ed.) Grammatical Theory and Romance Languages. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: Benjamins. pp. 275-291.

Tense and Aspect


You should be reasonably familiar with the notion of ‘tense’, but aspect might be rather less familiar:

  • Comrie, B (1985) Tense. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Comrie, B (1976) Aspect. Cambridge: CUP.

Other general surveys:

  • Binnick, R.I. (1991) Time and the Verb: a guide to tense and aspect systems. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Dahl, Östen (1984) ‘Temporsal distance: remoteness distinctions in tense-aspect systems’, in Butterworth, B., Comrie, B. & Dahl, Ö. Explanations for Language Universals. Berlin, New York & Amsterdam: Mouton.
  • Dahl, Östen (1985) Tense and Aspect Systems. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Dahl, Östen (2000) Tense and Aspect in the languages of Europe. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Hornstein, N. (1990) As Time Goes By: tense and Universal Grammar. Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press.

Studies of the tense/aspect system of French: Synchronic.

  • Imbs, P. (1968) L’Emploi des temps verbeaux en français moderne: essai de grammaire descriptive. Paris: Klincksieck.
  • Sten, H. (1952) Les Temps du verbe fini (indicatif) en français moderne. København: Munksgård.
  • Waugh, L. (1975) ‘A semantic analysis of the French tense system’ in Orbis 24, pp.436-485.

Studies of the tense/aspect system of French: Diachronic.

  • Harris, M. (1971) ‘The verbal systems of Latin and French’, in Transactions of the Philological Society 1970, pp.62-90.

Specific topics:

a) Comparisons between past tenses

  • Boyer, H. (1979) ‘L’opposition passé simple/passé composé dans le systè verbal de la langue française’, in Le Français moderne 47, pp.121-129.
  • Cox, T. (1982) ‘The inchoative aspect in French’, in The French Review 56, pp.228-240.
  • Engel, D.M. (1990) Tense and Text: a study of French past tenses. London: Routledge.
  • Fleischman, S. (1991) ‘Verb tense and point of view in narrative’, in Fleischman, S. & Waugh, L. (eds.) Discourse Pragmatics and the Verb: the evidence from Romance. London: Routledge.
  • Grobe, E. (1967) ‘Passé simple vs. imparfait’, in The French Review 41, pp.344-356.
  • Labelle, M. (1987) ‘L’utilisation des temps du passé dans les narrations françaises: le passé composé, l’imparfait et le présent historique’, in Revue romane 22, pp.3-29.
  • Molendijk, A. (1990) Le passé simple et l’imparfait: una approache reichenbachienne. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
  • Pfister, M. (1974) ‘Imparfait, passé simple, passé composé’, in Revue de linguistique romane 38, pp.400-417.
  • Reid, W. (1977) ‘The quantitative validation of a grammatical hypothesis: the passé simple and the imparfait’, in Kegl, J.A. (ed.) Proceedings of the Seventh Annual meeting of the North-East Linguistic Society, pp.315-333. Cambridge, Mass.: Noth-East Linguistic Society.
  • Thogmartin, C. (1984) ‘Tense, aspect and context in French narrative’, in The French Review 57, pp.344-349.
  • Vetters, C. (1993) ‘Passé simple et imparfait: un couple mal assorti’, in Langue Française 100, pp.14-29.

b) The vitality or otherwise of the passé simple

  • Engel, D.M. (1985) ‘The survival of the French passé simple: a reply to van Vliet’, in Word 36, pp.77-81.
  • Foulet, L. (1920) ‘La disparition du prétérit’, in Romania 46, pp.271-313.
  • Herzog, C. (1981) Le Passé simple dans les journaux du XXe siècle. Berne: Francke.
  • Millon, C.J. (1936) ‘Le passé simple chez les romanciers et les dramaturges’, in Le Français moderne 4, pp.239-248.
  • Monville-Burston, M. & Waugh, L. (1985) ‘Le passé simple dans le discours journalistique’, in Lingua 67, pp.121-170.
  • Schogt, H.G. (1964) ‘L’aspect verbal en français et l’élimination du passé simple’, in Word 20, pp.1-17.
  • van Vliet, E.R. (1983) ‘The disappearance of the French passé simple: a morphological and sociolingustic study’, in Word 34, pp.85-115.
  • Waugh, L.R. & Monville-Burston, M. (1986) ‘Aspect and discourse function: the French simple past in journalistic usage’, in Language 62, pp.846-877.
  • Yvon, H. (1963) ‘Le passé simple est-il sorti d’usage?’, in Le Français moderne 31, pp.161-176.
  • Zezula, J. (1969) ‘Le passé simple dans la langue de la presse française d’aujourd’hui’, in Beiträge zur romanischen Philologie 8, pp.336-345.

c) The passé composé

  • Lebek, H. (1965) ‘Le passé composé indique-t-il l’antériorité?’, in Kwartalnik neofilologiczny 12, pp.133-143.
  • Wilmet, M. (1976) Études de morpho-syntaxe verbale, chapitre 3, ‘Le passé composé narratif’. Paris: Klincksieck.

d) The imperfect

  • Berthonneau, A.-M. & Kleiber, G. (1993) ‘Pour une nouvelle approache de l’imparfait: l’imparfait, un temps anaphorique méronimique’, in Languages 112, pp.55-73.
  • Bertinetto, P.M. (1987) ‘Structure and origin of the “narrative imperfect”’, in Ramat, A.G., Carruba, O. & Bernini, G. (eds.) Papers from the 7th International Conference on Historical Linguistics. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
    (Deals with Italian, but conclusions are just as valid for French)
  • Dauses, A. (1981) Das imperfekt in den romanischen Sprachen: seine Bedeutung im Verhältnis zum Perfekt. Wiesbaden: Steiner.
  • Le Goffic, P. (1986) ‘Que l’imparfait n’est pas un temps du passé’, in Le Goffic, P. (dir.) Points de vue sur l’imparfait. Caen: Centre d’études linguistique de l’Université de Caen.
  • Warnant, L. (1964) ‘Le rôle du contexte dans les valeurs de l’imparfait’, in Mélanges de linguistique romane et de philologie médiévale offerts à M. Maurice Delbouille, pp.653-673. Gembloux: Duculot.
  • Warnant, L. (1966) ‘“Moi, l’étais le papa…”. L’imparfait préludique et quelques remarques relatives à la recherche grammaticale’, in Mélanges de grammaire française offerts à M. Maurice Grevisse pour le trentième anniversaire du “Bon Usage”, pp.343-366. Gembloux: Duculot.
    (on the use of the imperfect in children’s play.)
  • Wilmet, M. (1976) Études de morpho-syntaxe verbale, chapitre 4, ‘L’imparfait dit hypocoristique’. Paris: Klincksieck.

e) The present

  • Bessau, M.-J. (1993) ‘Les valeurs du présent dans le discours expositif’, in Langue française 97, pp.43-59.
  • Monville-Burston, M. & Waugh, L.R. (1991) ‘Multivalency: the French historical present in journalistic discourse’, in Fleischman, S. & Waugh, L. (eds.) Discourse Pragmatics and the Verb: the evidence from Romance, pp.86-119. London: Routledge.
  • Wilmet, M. (1976) Études de morpho-syntaxe verbale, chapitre 1, ‘Le présent scénique’. Paris: Klincksieck.

f) The pluperfect

  • Arnavielle, T. (1978) Remarques sur l’emploi du plus-que-parfait de l’indicatif en français moderne’, in Mélanges de philologie romane offerts à Charles Camproux, tome II, pp.615-621. Montpellier: Centre d’Études occitanes.
  • Engel, D.M. (1994) ‘Plus-que-parfait: past anterior or past punctual?’, in Lingvisticoe investigationes 18, pp.223-242.
  • Engel, D.M. (1996) ‘Le passé du passé’, in Word, pp.41-62.
  • Majumdar, M.J. & Morris, A.M. (1980) ‘The French pluperfect tense as a punctual past’, in Archivum linguisticum 11, pp.1-12.

  • Salkie, R. (1989) ‘Perfect and pluperfect: what is the relationship?’, in Journal of Linguistics 25, pp.1-34.
    (a cross-linguistic survey, with some reference to French.)

The French Subjunctive

For a general survey of mood and modality, look at:

  • Palmer, F.R. (1986) Mood and Modality. Cambridge: CUP.

General works on the French subjunctive:

  • Barral, M. L’imparfait du subjonctif: étude sur l’emploi et la concordance des temps du subjonctif. Paris: Picard.
    (the standard (substantial) work on the imperfect subjunctive.)
  • Cohen, M. (1965) Le subjonctif en français contemporain: tableau documentaire (2e édition). Paris: SEDES.
  • Imbs, P. (1953) Le subjonctif en français moderne: essai de grammaire descriptive. Strasbourg: faculté des Lettres.
  • Lindqvist, C. (1979) L’emploi temporel dans la complétive au subjonctif introduite par un temps du passé en français contemporain. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell.

On the semantics of the subjunctive:

  • Connors, K. (1978) ‘The meaning of the French Subjunctive’, in Linguistics 211, pp.45-56.
  • Wierzbicka, A. (1988) The Semantics of Grammar, chapter 1, esp. paragraph 9. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Winters, M.E. ‘Syntactic and Semantic space: the development of the French subjunctive’, in Ramat, A.G., Carruba, O. & Bernini, G. (eds.) Papers from the 7th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, pp.607-618. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Poplack, S. (1992) ‘The inherent variabiliy of the French subjunctive’, in Laeufer, C. & Morgan, T.A. (eds.) Theoretical Analyses in Romance Linguistics, pp.235-263. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

On the use of the subjunctive after après que:

  • Barral, M. (1967)‘La construction de “après que” avec le subjonctif en français moderne’, in Le Français dans le monde 50, pp.20-22.
    (somewhat anecdotal)
  • Grevisse, M. (1962/4/7) Problèmes de langage, particularly sections in books 1, 3 and 4. Gembloux: Duculot.
  • Wilmet, M. (1976) Études de morpho-syntaxe verbale, chapitre 6, ‘Le subjonctif suivant “après que”’. Paris: Klincksieck.

Forms of Address

  • Brown, P. & Levinson, S. (1987) Politeness: some universals in language usage. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Bustin-Lekeu, F. (1973) ‘Tutoiment et vouvoiement chez les lyceens français’, in The French Review 46/4, pp.773-782.
  • Gardner-Chloros, P. (1991) ‘Ni tu ni vous: principes et paradoxes dans l’emploi des pronoms d’allocution en français contemporain’, in Journal of French Language Studies 1, pp.139-155.
  • Head, B.F. (19**) ‘Respect degrees in pronominal reference’, in Greenberg, J. (ed.) Universals of Human Language vol. 3. Stanford.
  • Joseph, J.E. (1987) ‘Subject relevance and deferential address in the indo-European languages’, in Lingua 73, pp.259-277.
  • Lambert, W.E. & Tucker, G.R. (1976) Tu, vous, Ousted: a socio-psychological study of address patterns. Rowley.
  • Maley, C. (1974) The pronouns of address in Modern Standard French. University of Misisipi: Romance Monographs.
  • Muhlhausler, P. (1989) Pronouns and People: the linguistic construction of social and personal identity, esp. ch.6. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Schoch, M. (1978) ‘Problème sociolingusitique des pronoms d’allocution: “tu” et “vousrdquo;, enquête à Lausanne’, in La Linguistique 14, pp.55-73.

French Lexifier Pidgins and Creoles

General Issues

  • **Arends, J., Muysken, P., Smith, N. (eds.) (1995) Pidgins and Creoles: an introduction. Amsterdam: Benjamins. (especially chapters 1-5, 8-11, 13 and 25).
  • *Bickerton, D. (1991) Roots of Language. Ann Arbor, Mich.:Karoma.
  • DeCamp, D. (1971) ‘The study of pidgin and creole languages’, in Hymes, D. (ed.) Pidginization and Creolization of Languages. Cambridge, etc.: CUP.
  • DeGraaf, M. (ed.) (1999) Language Creation and Language Change: creolization, Diachrony, and Development. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  • **Holm, J. (1988-1989) Pidgines and Creoles (vol.I: Theory and Structure; vol.II: Reference and Survey). Cambridge, CUP.
  • *Muhlhausler, P. (1986) Pidgins and Creole Linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Romaine, S. (1988) Pidgin and Creole Languages. London: Longman.
  • Thomason, S.G. & Kaufman, T. (1991) Language contact, creolization and genetic linguistics. Berkeley and Oxford: University of California Press.
  • Todd, L. (1974: new edition 1990) Pidgins and Creoles. London: Routledge. (A short introduction to the subject.)

Specific French-Lexifier Pidgins and Creoles

The most important general survey of Romane-lexifier creoles is:

  • **Green, J.N. (1988) ‘Romance Creoles’, in Harris, M. & Vincent, N. (eds.) The Romance Languages. London and Sydney: Croom Helm (and reprint: London: Routledge, 1997).

Other useful general works:

  • Chaudenson, R. (1979) Les créoles français. Paris: Nathan.
  • Christie, P. (1990) ‘French Creoles: the French connection reviewed’, in Green, J.N. & Ayres-Bennett, W. (eds.) Variation and Change in French: essays presented to Rebecca Posner on the occasion of her sixtieth birthday. London: Routledge.
  • Posner, R. (1996) The Romance Languages. Cambridge: CUP.

Specific pidgins and creoles – Caribbean

  • Aub-Buscher, G. (1993) ‘French and French-based creoles: the case of the French Caribbean’, in Sanders, C (ed.) French Today: language in its social context. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Ayres-Bennett, W. (1996) A History of the French Language through Texts. London: Routledge, section 36 ‘French in the world: an early example of Haitian Creole (mid-eighteenth century)’.
  • L’Orthographe. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.
  • Catach, N. (1980) L’Orthographe française: traité théorique et pratique avec des travaux d’application et leurs corrigés. Paris: Nathan.
  • Catach, N. (1991) L’Orthographe en débat: dossiers pour un changement. Paris: Nathan.
  • Catach, N. (1984) La Phonétisation automatique du français. Paris: Éditions du CNRS.
  • Masson, M. (1991) L’orthographe: guide pratique de la réforme. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.
  • Sanders, C. (1993) chapter in French Today – language and social context. Cambridge: CUP.

French Phonetics and Phonology

  • Armstrong, L. (1978) The Phonetics of French: a practical handbook. London: G. Bell.
  • Léon, P. (1978) Prononçiation di Français standard. Didier.
  • O’Connor, J.D. (1973) Phonetics. Penguin.
  • Price, G. (1991) An introduction to French Pronunciation. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Tranel, B. (1987) The Sounds of French. CUP.
    • When is liaison in French obligatory, optional or impossible? Why?
    • How would you reform the French spelling system, if at all?
    • To what extent can French-Leixifier Pidgins and Creoles be defined or described as varieties of French?
    • Discuss the division of labour between the simple past, compound past and imperfect in contemporary French.
    • Discuss the semantic, syntactic and sociolinguistic factors that govern the use of the subjunctive in French.
    • “Semantic and syntactic evidence has shown that in present-day French the subjunctive is two separate phenomena: a (redundant) morphological marker of certain classes of lexical items, and an optional differentiator of a type of systematic ambiguity in subordinate clauses” (Connors). Discuss.
    • Discuss the factors which govern the use of ‘tu’ and ‘vous’ as pronouns of address in contemporary French.
    • “There are no rules, but only criteria.&lrquo; Discuss with reference to forms of address in Modern French.
    • Discuss the differences in meaning and distribution between the synthetic future and aller followed by an infinitive.
    • Discuss the possible reasons for the rarity of the imperfect subjunctive in Modern French.
    • Discuss the realisation of the voicing contrast in the French consonant system.
    • “The phonemic system of a language is not just an inventory, but a system of oppositions.” Discuss with reference to the French phonological system.
    • ‘French-lexifier Creoles are much more Creoles than they are French.’ Discuss.
    • ‘The verbal morphology of spoken French is best seen as constituting a completely different system from that of the written language.’ Discuss.
    • ‘French is an SVO language.’ Discuss.
    • ‘Il n’y a pas que la syntaxe qui determine l’ordre des mots en francais.’ Discuss.
    • ‘Deviations from the standard declarative SVO word order are usually stylistic devices or pragmatic choices.’ Discuss.
    • ‘Borrowing rarely involves an entirely straightforward transfer in semantic terms of the borrowed word to the host language.’ Discuss, with reference to loanwords in contemporary French.
    • ‘The insertion of a negative in French is not straightforward.’ Discuss.

Last updated 24th January 2005.