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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

This article is the first quantitative investigation of future temporal reference in spoken Hexagonal French. The two variants under examination are the inflected future (e.g. je partirai ‘I will leave’) and periphrastic future (e.g. je vais partir ‘I am going to leave’).

The present study will determine the distribution of future verb forms in Hexagonal French and investigate whether the constraint systems reported for varieties of Canadian French also hold in a European context. By contrasting variable usage with Canadian speech communities, this paper contributes to our understanding of the linguistic factors that unite and divide la francophonie. It also adds a French perspective to the existing literature on global linguistic trends.

Results suggest that the strategies of encoding future time in Hexagonal French mirror to a certain degree the findings reported in the extant Canadian literature. Chi-square and fixed/mixed-effects logistic regression models furthermore highlight the complex set of constraints governing the expression of future temporal reference in mainland France. Crucially, they indicate that the inflected form is still highly productive, with a frequency distribution comparable to the conservative Acadian French varieties. Nevertheless, the constraint hierarchy patterns like Laurentian French, with sentential polarity identified as the greatest determinant of variant choice.

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