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The example of parce que

By Aliyah Morgenstern . Last update : 28 June 2007. (trans. by Stephen Shimanek)

Our precedent analyses (Léonard corpus) allow us to develop hypotheses to be tested on new data. We have shown that verbal explicative behaviors can be divided into three periods, each one represented by different linguistic forms These periods can be compared to the process of grammaticalization in diachrony, emphasizing the notion of ’subjectivation’

1. Parataxis imposes structures in which the child must first reassert (that which is to be explained) before presenting an argument. The latter only acquires the status of (explanation) after the adult has done significant guiding work, which will bring cohesion and coherence to the explicative sequence.

(L 2;00) M: pourquoi tu l’aimes pas? L: l’aime pas, méchant
[Mother: why don’t you like him? Léonard: no like him, mean(ie).]

2. The emergence of the explicit marker "parce que" (because) around 2;02 changes the nature of the child’s explicative strategy. Insofar as it favors an intersubjective relationship, "Because / Parce que" allows the child to linguistically mark his appropriation of discourse. The function of the marker "parce que" is more modal than causal, the child’s aim in using it being to show that s/he is taking charge of the preceding discourse.

(L 2;05 M: pourquoi tu t’énerves? L: paque veux pas.)
[Mother: why are you getting upset? Léonard: coz no want.]

3. In the course of the third period observed, the utterances introduced by "parce que" become more diverse. At this stage can be found an essentially modal usage in statements in which the child strongly asserts his discursive responsibility, alongside utterances in which the referential component is primordial. This is moreover the distribution that can be found in adult speech.

(L 3;0) A: pourquoi elle pleure? L: pasqu’elle a perdu son papa.
[A: Why is she crying? L: Coz she lost her daddy.]


Whereas at the stage of paratactic explanation, the child did not make clear his appropriation of the explanatory link with the preceding discourse, once the connector appears he is able to build a metalinguistic representation of his role as a turn taker in discourse.


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