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By Terje Mathiassen


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Here, the coding properties of there are (agreement) point to a subject status of the only argument apples. Other properties however, in particular behavioral properties of this constituent, seem to deny apples a subject status: (19) a. b. c. There are apples in the garden. → I expect there to be apples in the garden. → *I expect apples to be there in the garden. (20) a. b. → He comes. I expect him to come. In the control construction, there in (19b) occupies the same syntactic slot as the subject constituent of a standard sentence (20b), while this position is excluded for apples (19c).

In fact, verse predominates in the thirteenth century subcorpus, while the great majority of fourteenth century texts in BFM1 happen to be in prose. If c’est-clefts in Old and Middle French occurred preferably in versified texts, the local deviation from the overall trend towards more clefting might reflect the different proportions of the two literary forms rather than linguistic evolution. The figures in Table 4, however, fail to confirm this hypothesis. 6 Table 4: C’est-clefts in Old and Middle French according to literary form Another factor that should be taken into account is literary genre.

Also example (1a) above). With respect to the choices available for QU, it has sometimes been assumed (cf. Krötsch & Sabban 1990:94, Léard 1992:30) that Contemporary French c’est-clefts only permit two relative pronouns qui “who, what” and que “that”, whereas all other relativizers (dont “of whom, of what”, où “where” and the inflected lequel “which”) cannot be employed in this particular syntactic context. Of course, such a restriction (and the consequent generalization of invariable que to all cleft types except subject clefts) would constitute a further piece of evidence for an overarching trend towards structural invariance of c’est-clefts in French.

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