The narrative construction va + infinitive in contemporary French: a linguistic phoenix risen from its medieval ashes?

Jacques Brès, Emmanuelle Labeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Old and Middle French (12th-16th centuries), va ["goes"] + inf was used in narrations in the past. A similar usage seems to have reappeared and be spreading today. However, the old construction combined with past Tenses whereas the new one is found only with forms anchored in present and future. We argue that the conTemporary construction derives not from the old one, but from a metanarrative construction. On the basis of its future in Terpretation, va + inf aids the organization of the narration, announcing subsequent events through a hypernymic process. The periphrasis thus approaches a narrative value by projecting the time of events onto that of narration. With the disappearance of all deictic markers, the go-periphrases are no longer hypernyms: they appear on the same temporal line of events as the neighboring situations and are understood as fully completed. © John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-322
Number of pages28
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

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  • Ccontemporary French
  • future
  • grammaticalization
  • narration
  • old French
  • Va + infinitive


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