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A Semantic Approach to Causation in French

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As noted at the outset, our purpose has been to offer an alternative approach to the syntactic analyses of a given construction in French. We have argued that A and PAR in causative constructions exhibit essentially the same semantic characteristics as they do in other structures in the language. It has been shown that a semantic approach centering on the principle of deictic orientation can account for certain data which are problematic for a purely syntactic analysis (while noting the shortcomings of this approach whenever appropriate): restrictions on verbs of perception, reflexive verbs, and non-passivizable verbs are naturally explained in such an approach, which further offers partial explanation for more opaque restrictions on cliticization which appear to be related to the semantic "completeness" of the Theme of the causation and to the fact that a clitic before FAIRE must be interpretable as the Goal of the causation. It is clear that many of the concepts discussed herein need further definition and clarification, but we hope to have shown that deictic orientation is a potentially productive working hypothesis for the investigation of other areas of French,39 as well as the study of other languages.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1978

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