On the Old French subjunctive

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This chapter focuses on the syntax of the subjunctive in Old French (OF), comparing it to Modern French (MF). In MF, obviation effects occur between the subject of a volitional complement and the subject the embedded clause (Ruwet 1984): (1) *Je veux que je parte. *I want-1sg that I leave-1sg-subj ‘I want to leave.’ (2) Je veux partir. I want-1sg to.leave.’ Arteaga (1990) first discussed in a theoretical model the fact that Old French lacked obviation effects: (3) En talent oti qu’ili colpast lej chiefj in desire-m-sg-obl had-3sg that he cut-subj the head ‘Hei desired to cut off hisj head. In (3), the subjects of the main and subordinate clause are coreferential. It will be claimed (contra Arteaga 1990 and Martineau 1994) that obviation in OF, and its evolution into MF, can be explained, if we assume the following: The complementizer que was not required to introduce the subjunctive in OF; Complementizer Deletion triggers V2 word order in subjunctive contexts; and the uninterpretable irrealis feature of CForce is valued by that of Mood via Agree (San Martín 2007), which extends the binding domain for the subordinate clause.


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