French compound prepositions, prepositional locutions and prepositional phrases in the scope of the absolute use

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In respect of their absolute use, without complement, French sequences sharing the pattern [<i>Preposition – Definite article – Noun – Preposition</i>] have to be subcategorized by lexical and by semantic parameters. These sequences are frequently classified as “prepositional locutions” in the French linguistic literature, but it seems that this label is wrongly attached to many of them. Our goal is, first, to establish a categorization method whose purpose is to draw a border between the different prepositional expressions. This will allow us to dissociate their absolute use from their lexical status. However, once it is made clear that many of these alleged prepositional locutions are nothing more than regular prepositional phrases, the absolute use can no longer be unconditionally attributed to ellipsis. Second, we will examine why mainly temporal and spatial expressions accept the absolute use contrary to expressions denoting cause, goal, opposition, concession, etc. Consequently, the part of what is usually considered as ‘arbitrary behavior’ in this field will be significantly reduced.


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