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A Modular account of null objects in French

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Abstract. 

The interaction among pragmatics, semantics, and grammar and their shared responsibility for interpretation are essential factors in linguistic analysis. This paper explores the interpretation of null objects (NOs) in French from this perspective. Previous accounts have determined two major classes based on the referentiality of the NO; however, these analyses end up, paradoxically, with a semantically vague description of the difference, resorting to undefined notions of identifiability, topic/focus, or probable reference. Starting from the assumption that all NOs are syntactically represented, we tease apart the contributions of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, which turn out to be simple and straightforward. We propose a typology comprising two syntactic types of NO; further nuances are a function of the varying contributions of verbal semantics and pragmatics.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Université Laval Département de langues, linguistique et traduction Cité universitaire Québec, QC G1K 7P4 Canada, Email: [email protected] 2: University of Toronto Department of French St. Michael's College Toronto, ON M5S 1J4 Canada, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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