Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



In this paper, we aim to enhance our understanding about the processing of implicit and explicit temporal chronological relations by investigating the roles of temporal connectives and verbal tenses, separately and in interaction. In particular, we investigate how two temporal connectives ( and , both meaning ‘then’) and two verbal tenses expressing past time (the simple and compound past) act as processing instructions for chronological relations in French. Theoretical studies have suggested that the simple past encodes the instruction to relate events sequentially, unlike the more flexible compound past, which does not. Using an online experiment with a self-paced reading task, we show that these temporal connectives facilitate the processing of chronological relations when they are expressed with both verbal tenses, and that no significant difference is found between the two verbal tenses, nor between the two connectives. By means of an offline experiment with an evaluation task, we find, contrary to previous studies, that comprehenders prefer chronological relations to be overtly marked rather than implicitly expressed, and prefer to use the connective in particular. Furthermore, comprehenders prefer it when these relations are expressed using the compound past, rather than the simple past. Instead of using the hypothesis (Segal et al. 1991Murray 1997) to explain the processing of temporal relations, we conclude that a more accurate explanation considers a cluster of factors including linguistic knowledge (connectives, tenses, grammatical and lexical aspect) and world knowledge.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aménos-Pons, José
    2011 Cross-linguistic variation in procedural expressions: Semantics and pragmatics. InVictoria Escandell-Vidal, Manuel Leonetti & Aoife Ahern (eds.), Procedural meaning: Problems and perspectives, 235–266. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing. 10.1108/S1472‑7870(2011)0000025014
    https://doi.org/10.1108/S1472-7870(2011)0000025014 [Google Scholar]
  2. Asr, Fatemeh Torabi & Vera Demberg
    2012 Implicitness of discourse relations. InProceedings of COLING, 2669–2684. Mumbai.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Blakemore, Diane
    1987Semantic constraints on relevance. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. 1988 ‘So’ as a constraint on relevance. InRuth Kempson (ed.), Mental representation: The interface between language and reality, 183–195. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. 2002Relevance and linguistic meaning: The semantics and pragmatics of discourse markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511486456
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511486456 [Google Scholar]
  6. Blochowiak, Joanna
    2014 A theoretical approach to the quest for understanding: Semantics and pragmatics of “whys” and “becauses”. Genève: Université de Genève dissertation.
  7. Blochowiak, Joanna, & Thomas Castelain
    2018 How logical is natural language conjunction? An experimental investigation of the French conjunction ‘et’. InPierre Saint Germier (ed.), Language, evolution and mind: Essays in honour of Anne Reboul, 97–126. London: Tributes Collection, College Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Bras, Myriam, Anne Le Draoulec & Laure Vieu
    2001 French adverbial puis between temporal structure and discourse structure. InMyriam Bras & Laure Vieu (eds.), Semantic and pragmatic issues in discourse and dialogue: Experimenting with current theories, 109–146. CRiSPI: Elsevier.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Brunot, Ferdinand
    1922La pensée et la langue: Méthode, principes et plan d’une théorie nouvelle du langage appliquée au français. Paris: Masson.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Canestrelli, Anneloes R., Willem M. Mak & Ted J. M. Sanders
    2013 Causal connectives in discourse processing: How differences in subjectivity are reflected in eye movements. Language and Cognitive Processes28(9). 1394–1413. 10.1080/01690965.2012.685885
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01690965.2012.685885 [Google Scholar]
  11. Carston, Robyn
    1988 Implicature, explicature, and truth-theoretic semantics. InRuth Kempson (ed.), Mental representations: The interface between language and reality, 155–181. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. 2002Thoughts and utterances: The pragmatics of explicit communication. Oxford: Blackwell. 10.1002/9780470754603
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470754603 [Google Scholar]
  13. Cozijn, Reinier, Leo G. M. Noordman & Wietske Vonk
    2011 Propositional integration and world-knowledge inference: Processes in understanding because sentences. Discourse Processes48(7). 475–500. 10.1080/0163853X.2011.594421
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853X.2011.594421 [Google Scholar]
  14. Dowty, David R.
    1986 The effects of aspectual class on the temporal structure of discourse: Semantics or pragmatics?Linguistics and Philosophy9(1). 37–61.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Ferretti, Todd R., Hannah Rohde, Andrew Kehler & Melanie Crutchley
    2009 Verb aspect, event structure, and coreferential processing. Journal of Memory and Language61(2). 191–205. 10.1016/j.jml.2009.04.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2009.04.001 [Google Scholar]
  16. Field, Andy
    2009Discovering statistics using SPSS. London: Sage Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Frank, Austin F. & T. Florian Jaeger
    2008 Speaking rationally: Uniform information density as an optimal strategy for language production. InProceedings of the Cognitive Science Society30. 939–944.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Fretheim, Thorstein
    2006 English then and Norwegian da/så compared: A relevance-theoretic account. Nordic Journal of Linguistics29(1). 45–93. 10.1017/S0332586506001491
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0332586506001491 [Google Scholar]
  19. Gosselin, Laurent
    2007 Les séquences de connecteurs temporels: Ordre et informativité des constituants. Cahiers Chronos18. 47–68.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Grevisse, Maurice
    1980Le bon usage, 11th ed.Bruxelles: De Boeck Duculot.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Grisot, Cristina
    2015 Temporal reference: Empirical and theoretical perspectives. Converging evidence from English and Romance. Geneva: University of Geneva dissertation.
  22. 2018Cohesion, coherence and temporal reference from an experimental corpus pragmatics perspective. Cham: Springer. Open Access: https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319967516. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑96752‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-96752-3 [Google Scholar]
  23. Grisot, Cristina & Jacques Moeschler
    2014 How do empirical methods interact with theoretical pragmatics? The conceptual and procedural contents of the English Simple Past and its translation into French. InJésus Romero-Trillo (ed.), Yearbook of corpus linguistics and pragmatics 2014: New empirical and theoretical paradigms, 7–33. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Haberlandt, Karl
    1982 Reader expectations in text comprehension. InJean-François Le Ny & Walter Kintsch (eds.), Language and language comprehension, 239–249. Amsterdam: North-Holland. 10.1016/S0166‑4115(09)60055‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0166-4115(09)60055-8 [Google Scholar]
  25. Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard
    1995Puis in spoken French: From time adjunct to additive conjunct?Journal of French Language Studies5(1). 31–56. 10.1017/S0959269500002490
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959269500002490 [Google Scholar]
  26. Hinrichs, Erhard
    1986 Temporal anaphora in discourses of English. Linguistics and Philosophy9(1). 63–82.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Hoek, Jet, Sandrine Zufferey, Jacqueline Evers-Vermeul & Ted J. M. Sanders
    2017 Cognitive complexity and the linguistic marking of coherence relations: A parallel corpus study. Journal of Pragmatics121. 113–131. 10.1016/j.pragma.2017.10.010
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2017.10.010 [Google Scholar]
  28. Jaeger, T. Florian
    2010 Redundancy and reduction: Speakers manage syntactic information density. Cognitive Psychology61(1). 23–62. 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2010.02.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogpsych.2010.02.002 [Google Scholar]
  29. Kamp, Hans
    1979 Events, instants and temporal reference. InRainer Bauerle, Urs Egli & Arnim von Stechow (eds.), Semantics from different points of view, 376–418. Amsterdam: Springer. 10.1007/978‑3‑642‑67458‑7_24
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-67458-7_24 [Google Scholar]
  30. Kamp, Hans & Uwe Reyle
    1993From discourse to logic: Introduction to modeltheoretic semantics of natural language, formal logic and discourse representation theory. Amsterdam: Springer.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Kamp, Hans & Christian Rohrer
    1983 Tense in texts. InRainer Bauerle, Christoph Schwarze, & Armin von Stechow (eds.), Meaning, use and interpretation of language, 250–269. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110852820.250
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110852820.250 [Google Scholar]
  32. Kozlowska, Monika
    1996 Ensuite et l’ordre temporel. Cahiers de Linguistique Française18. 243–274.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Kozlowska, Monica
    1998 Bornage, télicité et ordre temporel. InJacques Moeschler, Jacques Jayez, Jean-Marc Luscher, Louis de Saussure, & Bertrand Sthioul (eds.), Le temps des événements, 221–244. Paris: Kimé.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Le Draoulec, Anne & Myriam Bras
    2006 Quelques candidats au statut de connecteur temporel. Cahiers de Grammaire30. 219–237.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Levinson, Stephen C.
    2000Presumptive meanings: The theory of generalized conversational implicature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 10.7551/mitpress/5526.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/5526.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  36. Magliano, Joseph P. & Michelle C. Schleich
    2000 Verb aspect and situation models. Discourse Processes29(2). 83–112. 10.1207/S15326950dp2902_1
    https://doi.org/10.1207/S15326950dp2902_1 [Google Scholar]
  37. Mak, Willem M. & Ted J. M. Sanders
    2013 The role of causality in discourse processing: Effects of expectation and coherence relations. Language and Cognitive Processes28(9). 1414–1437. 10.1080/01690965.2012.708423
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01690965.2012.708423 [Google Scholar]
  38. Millis, Keith K. & Marcel A. Just
    1994 The influence of connectives on sentence comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language33(1). 128–147. 10.1006/jmla.1994.1007
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1994.1007 [Google Scholar]
  39. Moeschler, Jacques
    2000a Le modèle des inférences directionnelles. Cahiers de Linguistique Française22. 57–100.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. 2000b L’ordre temporel est-il naturel?InJacques Moeschler & Marie-José Béguelin (eds.), Référence temporelle et nominale, 71–105. Bern: Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. 2002 Economy and pragmatic optimality: The case of directional inferences. Generative Grammar Geneva3. 1–20.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Moeschler, Jacques, Jacques Jayez, Monika Kozlowska, Jean-Marc Luscher, Louis de Saussure & Bertrand Sthioul
    1998Le temps des événements: Pragmatique de la référence temporelle. Paris: Kimé.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Mozuraitis, Mindaugas, Craig G. Chambers & Meredyth Daneman
    2013 Younger and older adults’ use of verb aspect and world knowledge in the online interpretation of discourse. Discourse Processes50(1). 1–22. 10.1080/0163853X.2012.726184
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853X.2012.726184 [Google Scholar]
  44. Murray, John D.
    1997 Connectives and narrative text: The role of continuity. Memory & Cognition25(2). 227–236. 10.3758/BF03201114
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03201114 [Google Scholar]
  45. Nicolle, Steve
    1998 A relevance theory perspective on grammaticalization. Cognitive Linguistics9(1). 1–35. 10.1515/cogl.1998.9.1.1
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cogl.1998.9.1.1 [Google Scholar]
  46. Noveck, Ira A. & Anne Reboul
    2008 Experimental pragmatics: A Gricean turn in the study of language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences12(11). 425–431. 10.1016/j.tics.2008.07.009
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2008.07.009 [Google Scholar]
  47. Partee, Barbara Hall
    1973 Some structural analogies between tenses and pronouns in English. The Journal of Philosophy, 601–609. 10.2307/2025024
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2025024 [Google Scholar]
  48. Prasad, Rashmi, Nikhil Dinesh, Alan Lee, Eleni Miltsakaki, Livio Robaldo, Aravind K. Joshi & Bonnie L. Webber
    2008 The Penn Discourse TreeBank 2.0. InProceedings of the 6th international conference on language resources and evaluation. Marrakech.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Reichenbach, Hans
    1947Elements of symbolic logic. New York: Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Reyle, Uwe
    1998 A note on enumerations and the semantics of “puis” and “alors”. Cahiers de Grammaire23. 67–79.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Robert
    Robert 2016 Le Grand Robert de la langue française [Online version]. gr.bvdep.com/robert.asp (Accessed10 October, 2017).
  52. Rohde, Hannah, Roger Levy & Andrew Kehler
    2011 Anticipating explanations in relative clause processing. Cognition118(3). 339–358. 10.1016/j.cognition.2010.10.016
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2010.10.016 [Google Scholar]
  53. Sanders, Ted
    2005 Coherence, causality and cognitive complexity in discourse. InProceedings/Actes SEM-05, First international symposium on the exploration and modelling of meaning, 105–114.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Sanders, Ted J. M. & Leo G. M. Noordman
    2000 The role of coherence relations and their linguistic markers in text processing. Discourse Processes29(1). 37–60. 10.1207/S15326950dp2901_3
    https://doi.org/10.1207/S15326950dp2901_3 [Google Scholar]
  55. Sanders, Ted J. M., Wilbert P. M. Spooren & Leo G. M. Noordman
    1992 Toward a taxonomy of coherence relations. Discourse Processes15(1). 1–35. 10.1080/01638539209544800
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01638539209544800 [Google Scholar]
  56. Saussure, Louis de
    2003Temps et pertinence: Éléments de pragmatique cognitive du temps. Bruxelles: De Boeck Duculot. 10.3917/dbu.sauss.2003.01
    https://doi.org/10.3917/dbu.sauss.2003.01 [Google Scholar]
  57. 2007 L’étrange cas de puis en usages discursif et argumentatif. Cahiers Chronos19. 261–275.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Saussure de, Louis
    2011 On some methodological issues in the conceptual/procedural distinction. InVictoria Escandell-Vidal, Manuel Leonetti, & Aoife Ahern (eds.), Procedural meaning: Problems and perspectives, 55–79. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Schneider, Walter, Amy Eschman & Anthony Zuccolotto
    2012E-Prime 2.0 Reference Guide Manual. Pittsburgh: Psychology Software Tools, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Segal, Erwin M., Judith F. Duchan & Paula J. Scott
    1991 The role of interclausal connectives in narrative structuring: Evidence from adults’ interpretations of simple stories. Discourse Processes14(1). 27–54. 10.1080/01638539109544773
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01638539109544773 [Google Scholar]
  61. Sperber, Dan & Deirdre Wilson
    1986Relevance: Communication and cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Squartini, Mario & Pier Marco Bertinetto
    2000 The simple and compound past in Romance languages. InÖsten Dahl (ed.), Tense and aspect in the languages of Europe, 403–440. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Silfhout, Gerdineke van, Jacqueline Evers-Vermeul & Ted Sanders
    2015 Connectives as processing signals: How students benefit in processing narrative and expository texts. Discourse Processes52(1). 47–76. 10.1080/0163853X.2014.905237
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853X.2014.905237 [Google Scholar]
  64. Wilson, Deirdre & Dan Sperber
    1998 Pragmatics and time. InRobyn Carston & Seiji Uchida (eds.), Relevance Theory: Applications and implications, 1–22. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.37.03wil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.37.03wil [Google Scholar]
  65. Wilson, Deidre & Dan Sperber
    2004 Relevance theory. InLaurence Horn & Gregory Ward (eds.), Handbook of pragmatics, 607–632. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Wilson, Deirdre & Dan Sperber
    2012Meaning and relevance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139028370
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139028370 [Google Scholar]
  67. Zufferey, Sandrine
    2014 Givenness, procedural meaning and connectives. The case of French puisque. Journal of Pragmatics62. 121–135. 10.1016/j.pragma.2013.09.022
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2013.09.022 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error