Grammaticalisation: Le cas des prépositions locatives
  • ISSN 0378-4169
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9927
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SummaryDynamism is a marked feature for prepositions in French: among its lexicalizations by means of prepositional expressions, inchoative de stands out as the most marked one. Yet, this is the result of a modern normative intervention. Within the more comprehensive framework of the change of perception of space from Latin to the Romance languages, the case of de- is striking. In Latin compounds, de- has a dynamic meaning; gradually, it loses its dynamic sense and becomes completely bleached in Middle French. Owing to this loss of semantic quantity, adverbial compounds drop to the prepositional level or move up to the nominal one, where dynamism is no longer possible. The opposite movement, relexicalisation, happened in the 17th century, and tends to reinforce the preposition de by preventing it from getting bleached in compounds, and from losing its sense. The current state of de in French illustrates these two successive movements: it has become a full preposition, expressing by itself the beginning of a movement, and at the same time the ‘emptiest’ preposition, a mere function marker.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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