Subject inversion in French: The limits of information structure
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.