LINGUIST List 5.1332

Sun 20 Nov 1994

Sum: French Creole apres for progressive

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  1. Vincent DeCaen, Summary: French Creole apres for progressive

Message 1: Summary: French Creole apres for progressive

Date: Sat, 19 Nov 1994 19:50:44 Summary: French Creole apres for progressive
From: Vincent DeCaen <>
Subject: Summary: French Creole apres for progressive

The original question concerned the use of apres in French creoles for
the progressive rather than the perfect which would be expected on
typological grounds. The enormous response precludes listing all who answered.

It would seem that the moral of the story is that one shouldn't assume
what is normal in any given case. In this instance, it was simply
incorrect to assume that Standard French en train de was normal; in
fact, it would appear that Standard French has innovated in this
respect. According to respondants, the apres construction for the
progressive is found in many vernacular French's including Canadian,
Swiss and Cajun. One would assume that the vernacular is the source
of the creole progressive.

The semantics of apres is only strange on the assumption that the form
means "after." It does appear that the vernacular progressive
preserves the original sense of a - pres, which in fact conforms to
expectations based on cross-linguistic study. In Standard French, the
corresponding expression is aupres.

Many respondents drew my attention to the "after Ving" construction of
English dialect. H. Rogers at UofT informs me that the construction
is a perfect and not a progressive; I have since confirmed this
analysis. In addition to Welsh, Scots Gaelic has an "after Ving"
perfect that is the likely source of the construction. Apparently the
preposition in Scots Gaelic (air) now means "on" outside of the
progressive construction (an deigh "after").

Thanks again to all who responded. It was an interesting exercise.
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