From grammaticalization to expressive constructions
My concern is the relationships between grammar and expressivity which have always remained represented a minority, if not a marginal, interest in linguistics. The paper deals with the construction ‘P, <i>histoire de</i> inf.’ (<i>Prends quelques jours de repos, histoire de te changer les idées</i> ‘take a few days’ rest, just to have a break from everything’). It is shown, from a diachronic perspective, that the construction expresses an attitudinal meaning, the speaker’s stance. The paper argues that, although expressivity and attitude meaning have usually been relegated to a secondary role by the prevailing formal grammatical approach to language, they have long been viewed as relatively important by certain linguists (for example, Bally). Expressivity is part of the grammatical system to a much larger degree than is usually presumed.