Subject inversion in French: The limits of information structure


  • Jean-Marie Marandin CNRS, Université Paris Diderot



My objective here is to assess the relevance of information structural notions for analyzing subject inversion in French. Subject inversion is not a unified phenomenon. In fact, there are three distinct constructions featuring an inverted subject. I show that the sentences do not have the same informational potential (the type of focus-ground articulation they are compatible with) depending on the construction they abide by. I propose a contextual factor – the informational solidarity between the verb and its first argument – to account for those differences. Then, I show that the three constructions share a common feature that pertains to a completely different dimension: the perspective chosen to describe the situation. I adopt Langacker's notion of absolute construal to characterize it. Finally, I present another common feature: the blocking of the referential anchoring of the referent of indefinite and partitive NPs.


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How to Cite

Marandin, Jean-Marie. 2011. Subject inversion in French: The limits of information structure. Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar 327–347. (doi:10.21248/hpsg.2011.19) ( (Accessed September 21, 2023.)