The disappearance of the French simple past has been hotly debated since the early 20th century. Chronicle of a Death Foretold offers an overview of its fortunes since French emerged as a language, provides a description of its distinctive features, and discusses the potential impact of its supposed demise on the whole French verb system. These assumptions are tested against a large corpus of contemporary texts. The study concludes that, despite the erosion of its meaning and its increasingly infrequent use, the simple past tense is still used by native speakers in various contexts, and no single substitute has yet emerged. Nevertheless, the simple past may be evolving into a stylistic marker, making it fertile ground for future cross-linguistic studies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages454
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-46334-9
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-51032-6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameEmpirical Approaches to Linguistic Theory


  • simple past
  • past historic
  • French Language
  • verbal system
  • language evolution
  • temporality
  • aspectuality


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