Variation in future temporal reference in southern France
Lacross, Elisabeth Wood Anderson
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Using two corpora from Southern France, this dissertation sets out to determine the linguistic and extra-linguistic environments that affect the alternation between the periphrastic future, as in je vais chanter ‘I am going to sing,’ and the inflected future, as in je chanterai ‘I will sing.’ Additionally, the present study seeks to broaden the traditional variationist methodology to establish the meaning and functions of the periphrastic and the inflected future in spoken French from Southern France. Much work has been done on the alternation between future variants in varieties of Canadian French (e.g. Poplack & Turpin 1999; Poplack & Dion 2009), yet only a few quantitative analyses of Hexagonal French exist (Roberts 2012; Edmonds & Gudmestad 2015; Villeneuve & Comeau 2016). Therefore, this study begins with a quantitative analysis of potential linguistic factors to determine whether the semantic, syntactic, and social constraints posited by the previous studies are shared by both Canadian and Hexagonal French varieties. The results of the quantitative analysis, which identify temporal distance, grammatical person, polarity, verb class, and age as significant factor groups, inform the targeted factor groups in the pragmatic analysis that blends both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The pragmatic analysis provides a close examination of discourse level factors, revealing that temporal distance may not constrain the variables solely on the distinction between proximate and distal eventualities and that, instead, prior circumstances pragmatically constrain variant selection. Finally, the pragmatic trends that emerge from this blended approach serve as factor groups in a native speaker context completion task. Overall, the usage rates of the future variants in the corpora for this study differ from those of the Canadian French studies, reflecting the different developmental paths of the individual language varieties. The results of the quantitative and qualitative analysis along with the native speaker questionnaire indicate that the periphrastic future denotes speaker certainty due to an awareness of previous eventualities that positively affect the realization of the future proposition while the inflected future expresses deontic modality through promises and dynamic modality through speaker willingness.