Middle voice in French

Black, James R. (1975) Middle voice in French. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

It is widely assumed that the subject of any French verb is either the agent or the patient of the process which the verb denotes, and that the choice of voice forms representing this notional situation of the subject is limited to the active and passive forms only. In this study, a third notional situation of the subject is recognized, that of a subject who is both agent and patient of the action. An investigation is made of the pronominal verb forms used to express this middle diathesis. -- The work comprises four parts. The first chapter is a general inquiry into the nature of the verb and the forces of incidence which relate the verb to supports outside itself in relationships of direct and indirect transitivity. The second chapter, on voice, investigates whether there is a constant correlation between form and notion in the phenomenon of voice, and demonstrates the need for a distinction between formal and notional categories in any examination of this aspect of French. -- A discussion of the underlying structure and values of a theoretical middle voice, in both wide and restricted definitions, precedes an account of resultative, or mixed-voice verbs. It is shown that these verbs owe their particular value to their inability to be temporally complete before they are materially complete. The aptness of pronominal voice to express middle diathesis is then emphasized by the various reflexive, reciprocal, middle and passive values which can be assumed by reflexive verbs, by the nature of transitivity within the construction, and by special features of the verb in the bi-transcendant aspect. The last chapter is devoted to an analysis of some middle voice verbs (selected from a corpus including a newspaper, a novel and a collection of diverse texts). The commentary on them points invariably to the general conclusion of this work, which is that the subject of a pronominal voice verb in French incorporates, in variable proportions, the double role of agent and patient.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7424
Item ID: 7424
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 170-174.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: 1975
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: French language--Verb

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