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Les Comparatives Du Français Et La Négation

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The aim of this paper is to describe the French comparative que-construc-tions. There are two kinds of que-comparatives, depending on the category of the complement: a quantifier or related term, on the one hand; on the other, a sentence (with or without deleted terms) containing an obligatorily empty constituent, correlated to the comparative adverb.
It is argued that propositional comparatives do not derive from non-propositional ones (quantifier complements containing a relative clause). We then examine the rather surprising properties of the propositional comparatives of inequality, involving negation. It is shown that these properties are linked to an inversion of the referential relation (the inverse of that in comparatives of equality), which results from the "negative" meaning of the comparative adverb (but not directly, as we see from après vs avant). The occurrence of the negative particle ne is a result of this (and also its absence after après).
This involves a more general property. There are words which can be interpreted as containing a dependent negation, as if the governing term were an unmarked and positive term, which commands a negated clause. This lexical/syntactic ambiguity uses the two-terms negation of French: thus, the absence of the negation pas is a sign of the non-autonomous occurrence of ne in all these constructions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1983

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