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The partitive in French : a comparison of four analyses

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(Thesis) M.A.
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Four analyses of the forms du, de la, de 1* , des and dg were compared in order to evaluate the insights they were able to provide into the so-called partitive forms. i ?f Grevisse's Le Bon Usage was chosen as an example of a traditional analysis which uses multiple criteria of classification, meaning, structure and function. The first full structural analysis of the noun system in French, Gramma ire structurale du fran^ais by Jean Dubois, was chosen as an analysis in which only the syntagmatic relationships of the speech chain are taken into account in setting up the various systems in the language. The treatment of the partitive article by Gustave Guillaume was chosen as an analysis which claims to show the operation of the mental processes which underlie the observable phenomena in the speech chain. Finally an article by Kaurice Gross, "Sur une regie de 'cacophonie1 ", which develops a suggestion made by Chomsky for a T-rule relaying to the partitive, was chosen as an analysis claiming to show the operation of processes which relate the underlying and the superficial structures of the language. Comparison of the four analyses revealed that it was 'the idea of language process as it is embodied in T-rules that gave the neatest account of the distribution of 'partitive' de in relation to du, de la, de 1', and des. It was the requirement of generality of application of T-rules .that gave the only motivated description of the formation of the partitive as a combination of precosition de and the generic article le. It was the application of one or both of two deletion rules that linked a wider range of phenomena than could be related by the other types of analyses.
Thesis (M.A.) - Dept. of Modern Languages - Simon Fraser University
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Thesis advisor: Newton, Brian
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