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Based on a quantitative empirical analysis of more than 4600 French text messages from the newly established Swiss reference corpus of text messages (cf. www.sms4science.ch), we show that the (graphic) realization of past participle agreement, often considered to be particularly prone to orthographic errors and indicative of more formal registers of contemporary French, is realized in the overwhelming majority of cases in our data (89,9 %). This holds independently of the sometimes heavily deviant graphic character of the respective text messages and the (very rare) phonic realization of past participle agreement in contemporary French. Significant triggering linguistic factors for the absence of (full) past participle agreement are type and distance of the controller of the agreement (more deviant realizations with relative pronouns than with cliticized objects, more deviant realizations with the controller following the past participle in constructions with être as the auxiliary), and the features of agreement (more deviant realizations of gender than of number features on the past participle), this being in line with important universal typological and theoretical findings. External factors such as sex and education play a certain role, too, which makes past participle agreement in French a sociolinguistic rather than a stylistic variable bound to graphic forms of communication.
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