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French prepositions <i>&#224;</i> and <i>de</i> in infinitival complements: A pragma-semantic analysis

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Abstract

We uphold the position that the French prepositions <i>à </i>and <i>de </i>are not “empty” and do not fulfill only a syntactic function. After showing that the criterion of presupposition, used in some previous work, is not sufficient to differentiate these prepositions, we put forward a pragma-semantic description according to which expressions with <i>à</i>, followed by an infinitival complement, are used when the speaker’s intention is to present a fact in an “ambivalent” way, whereas expressions with <i>de </i>indicate a “monovalent” vision of a fact. We also try to show that the “ambivalent vision” related to the preposition <i>à </i>makes it possible to introduce a particular argumentative value to the statement, indicating a real or a potential opposition of points of view.

References

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