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Aux origines des emplois modaux de l'imparfait. Le cas de l'emploi hypothétique et de l'emploi contrefactuel

Abstract : The present paper deals with the diachronic origin of two modal uses of the imparfait : the hypothetical use in si-constructions and the counterfactual use. After establishing that the two uses already existed in Old French where they corresponded to two distinct uses of the imparfait in the protasis and in the apodosis of hypothetical constructions, we trace the development of both uses in Latin. It then appears that the introduction of the imparfait in hypotheticals is intimately connected to the semantic erosion of subjunctive forms. It also seems that the growing association of the imparfait with values such as counterfactuality and distanciation led to a progressive weakening of its aspectuo-temporal value. We finally suggest that this evolution illustrates the transition between the stage of “bridging contexts” and that of “switch contexts” described in Heine’s model (2002) for semantic change.
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Adeline Patard, Walter de Mulder. Aux origines des emplois modaux de l'imparfait. Le cas de l'emploi hypothétique et de l'emploi contrefactuel. Langages, Armand Colin (Larousse jusqu'en 2003), 2014, 193 (1), pp.33-47. ⟨10.3917/lang.193.0033⟩. ⟨hal-01700389⟩

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