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Negation marking in French text messages

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Abstract

This study investigates the drop of the first clitic element, <i>ne</i>, of French sentential negation. It is based on 4,628 French text messages taken from the newly established corpus <i>sms4science.ch</i>. It shows that regional or stylistic factors do not play a major role in triggering <i>ne</i> deletion or <i>ne</i> retention, and that the only relevant language-internal factor is subject type, more precisely clitic subjects (also in subject doubling structures) and subject drop, which seem to favour or even trigger categorically <i>ne</i> deletion. Our findings are in keeping with those by R. van Compernolle (2008) on European French in online chats, and thereby indicate partially specific regularities in French computer-mediated communication (<i>CMC</i>). The findings question traditional assumptions on <i>ne</i> drop as a variety marker in French, irrespective of the phonic or graphic nature of the data (cf. P. Koch and W. Oesterreicher 2011). In fact, even in graphically deviant data, <i>ne</i> drop seems to follow the observed robust language-internal regularities. Some data seem to indicate that the graphic nature of SMSes plays a role also in <i>ne</i>-drop (cf. similar conclusions by R. van Compernolle 2008 for chats); this has to be checked by examining a larger number of French text messages.

References

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