'A propos' : from verbal complement to 'utterance marker' of discourse shift - HAL Accéder directement au contenu
Article dans une revue Linguistics Année : 2011

'A propos' : from verbal complement to 'utterance marker' of discourse shift


This paper presents an analysis of the evolution of the French preverbal expression 'à propos' ('by the way' in Modern French). First I discuss the possibility of analyzing it as a discourse marker. Basing the analysis on Fraser's approach (1990, 1999), I show that 'à propos' falls within the definition of discourse markers, displaying their main characteristics. More specifically it serves to reinforce, or even create, discourse coherence. Secondly I give an account of the historical development of the expression and of the emergence of its pragmatic uses. I argue that it is closely related to the evolution of 'à ce propos' (and to a lesser extent to that of 'à propos de'), and hypothesize that à propos has progressively replaced 'à ce propos' in certain contexts, while also developing in contexts of more abrupt discourse shift. I finally address the issue of the interpretation of 'à propos' as a case of grammaticalization, and show that there are sufficiently convincing arguments to justify its being analyzed as such. I also discuss the relevance of introducing the notion of pragmaticalization, and argue for this being a mere subclass of grammaticalization, though pertaining more specifically to the pragmatic area.
Fichier principal
Vignette du fichier
prevost_linguistics0311.pdf ( 338.81 Ko ) Télécharger
Origine : Fichiers éditeurs autorisés sur une archive ouverte

Dates et versions

halshs-00665239, version 1 (03-05-2012)


  • HAL Id : halshs-00665239 , version 1


Sophie Prévost. 'A propos' : from verbal complement to 'utterance marker' of discourse shift. Linguistics, 2011, 49 (2), pp.391-413. ⟨halshs-00665239⟩
145 Consultations
365 Téléchargements
Dernière date de mise à jour le 18/05/2024
comment ces indicateurs sont-ils produits


Gmail Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Plus