Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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The aim of this study was to explore why the subjunctive, despite its lack of modal productivity, might persist in French. I argue that the subjunctive is a modally void fossil, persisting due to repeated usage following highly entrenched constructions. The focus here is on the behaviour of the subjunctive in Renaissance French, specifically in the sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries. Content analysis of personal correspondence identified the real subjunctive usage that lies beneath the French polish applied by standardisation. Through analysis of the structures that trigger the subjunctive in complement clause environments, I explore the grammatical behaviour of the subjunctive. The subjunctive was routinised after regularly occurring verbal and non-verbal constructions, strengthening the subjunctive’s position in certain complement clause environments. This study has diachronic importance in identifying which salient forms might persist in French. There are insights into the behaviour – perhaps the foundations – of the subjunctive paradigm in French as it stands today.


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