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Inferencing, Reanalysis, and the History of the French est-ce que Question

Richard Waltereit
Published Online: 2018-05-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2018-0004


In this paper, I discuss critically the traditional view of reanalysis, taking into account recent debates about the concept. In particular, I argue that the debate about reanalysis tends to conflate two interpretations of reanalysis: reanalysis as a type of language change among other ones, and reanalysis as the recognition or “ratification” of any kind of change. I offer a possible explanation of that potential confusion. I then illustrate this distinction using the history of the French est-ce que question as a case study. I report original diachronic research on the history of that construction. Further, I discuss implications both at a conceptual-theoretical level and at a practical level for further diachronic research. The paper concludes with a summary and discussion of the findings.

Keywords: Reanalysis; Language change; interrogatives; Conventionalization


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About the article

Received: 2017-08-08

Accepted: 2018-03-16

Published Online: 2018-05-24

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 56–69, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2018-0004.

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© 2018 Richard Waltereit, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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