Past participle agreement in spoken and written French

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Nino83, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    On the basis of a study of Monique Audibert-Gibier, Etude de l'accord du participe passé sur de corpus de française parlé, Université de Provence, (on http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/lsoc_0181-4095_1992_num_61_1_2573) the rules about the agreement of the past participle in spoken French are different from the ones taught at school.
    The study concentrates on those verbs which have a different pronunciation for the feminine gender (dire, faire, mettre, prendre, asseoir, écrire, inscrire, ouvrir, couvrir) in spoken French and 300 cases are tested (in which the agreement is mandatory according to the grammatical rules).

    With the ausiliar verb être, on 23 cases there are only 14 agreements (9 out of 11 with the verb faire).
    With the ausiliar verb avoir with object pronouns me, te, nous, vous, on 6 cases there is only one case of agreement, with object pronouns la, les past participle agrees with object pronoun 28 out of 44 cases in which post-verbal position is empty (64%, but 33% when post-verbal position is full, with the verb faire percentages are 80% instead of 64%). If after la, les there is lui, there's no agreement (0%, even if the post-verbal position is empty).
    Relative pronouns (que, quel) and adverbs (comme, combien) have lower percentages (34% when the post-verbal position is empty, 24% in other cases, 27% and 16% with the verb faire).
    When there is faire + infinitive the percentage of agreement is 60%.
    There are few examples with pronominal verbs, but it seems that the agreement is easier when there is the pronoun se with a passive sense.

    So, past participle agreement is easier when the post-verbal position is empty (64%-33% with avoir and la, les, 34%-24% with que, quel, comme, combien). Agreement is easier with la, les than with me, te, vous, nous.
    With verb être past participle agreement is not systematic (61%, easier when post-verbal position is empty).
    When there is la + lui, there's no agreement. With verb faire percentages are higher (80% with avoir + la, les).

    In 1989 AIROE (Association pour l'Information et la Recherche sur les Orthographes et systèmes d'Ecriture) said:

    "In most cases, agreement is purely a feature of the written language. However, studies of present tendencies reveal that more and more people fail to make the agreement even when it appears orally, such as in la faute que j'ai commise (or commis). AIROE feels that this increasing latitude in the spoken language should be echoed by a similar tolerance for written forms, and that failure to note the past participle agreement in writing should no longer be considered as a mistake.
    "

    http://www.spellingsociety.org/journals/j7/world.php

    Among Romance Languages French is the one with the greatest difference between spoken and written form in this matter.
    In Italian and Catalan past participle agrees in spoken and written form, in Romanian, Spanish and Portuguese it doesn't.

    Why French regulators haven't accepted this request?

    Ciao

    P.S.
    There's no great difference between baccalaureates, 37%, and undergraduate, 25%.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Because they are expected to function as a conservative force to counterbalance the innovative forces of informal, spoken usage. It is of course debatable whether they can in fact offer any effective resistance, but that is their function.
     
  3. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    [h=1]There is an argument for retaining the rules in the existing normative grammars (which are at least largely consistent), and an argument for abandoning participle agreement altogether. But the suggestion that it should all be left to the whim of individual writers is not a good one.[/h]
     
  4. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I do not see why written conventions need to parallel developments in speech patterns. Yes, people might not make the agreement orally when it is needed and others just might not have a clue when to make agreement anyhow (those same people might write vous avez parler too), but why should rules be simplified to consecrate bad usage? It's better just to teach people these agreement rules that exist for a reason and make them aware of the mistakes they are making.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  5. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    Thanks for the answers.



    I don't think that regulators ought to approve mistakes.

    In Italian, up to 1950, past participle often agreed with direct objects placed before the verb, as in la lettera che ha scritta (la lettre qu'il a écrite), but it fell into disuse.

    With first and second person object pronouns only occasionally past participle agrees, as in ti ho vista ieri (je t'ai vue hier), but it always agrees with third person object pronouns, as in l'ho vista ieri (je l'ai vue hier).

    So, Italian regulators stated that in the first two cases (che/que; mi/me, ti/te, ci/nous, vi/vous) past participle agreement is facultative and in the third case it's mandatory.



    The French case is quite similar. Few agreements with que and me, te, nous, vous and most agreement with le, la, les.

    I repeat that There's no great difference between baccalaureates and undergraduate. The percentage of agreement is 37% among baccalaureates. It is not a mistake and it is not considered a mistake in spoken language.



    If an English "Académie" said that people should use second person thou with second verb conjugation all would make fun of it. One can't write as people spoke one or two hundred years ago.


    It seems to me that l'Académie Française is too much conservative than Italian, Spanish or Portuguese regulators.

    All this in my humble opinion :)

    Ciao
     
  6. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    OK, your opinion is recorded. What more do we need to say here?
     
  7. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Well, the issue is what is and what isn't a "mistake". If everybody agreed, there wouldn't be this discussion.
     
  8. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    It's difficult (and it would be discourteous) for me to believe that educated French people make mistakes about past participle agreement 3 times out of 5 (in spoken language).
    As this study (and AIROE) says, there are probably different rules between written and spoken language.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  9. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    As a side note, saying that someone makes a language mistake is not discourteous, in my opinion. Also, educated people can well make language mistakes. What makes usage a mistake is probably either discomfort and feeling of hinderance, or a fault in communication, that people, especially literate, may be expected to have while listening or reading [to] the text.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  10. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    In my opinion this is a ridiculous request of the AIROE.

    In speech you can also not hear the difference between "parler", "parlez", "parlé" and "parlée". Should they also decide to write them the same?

    It is true though that spelling in French, by the French, is generally a disaster, and not only among "uneducated" people. I used to work for a French company for about 20 years and you really cannot imagine the spelling of the French written communication issued by the French native speakers; and this was all coming from engineers and other university level people.

    For some reason, they either don't have a clue on the grammatical rules or they don't care a damn.

    I have already mentioned this in another thread but we once received a survey on one A4 page. There were more than 20 spelling mistakes on that single page. And this was not even continuous text: it was a number of questions and multiple choice answers.:eek:
     
  11. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    I think Nino's issue was different. This is the case where the forms of participle are indistinguishable in sound for historical reasons, and Nino was talking of cases where the forms of participle are distinguishable, yet people use one form in writing and the other in speech. (I personally think, why not? speech and writing are indeed different activities).
     
  12. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    Yes, I agree it's not exactly the same, but his/her argument was based on speech; that's why I used this, rather obvious, example which is also based on speech.
     
  13. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I agree with Peter, mistakes, even atrocious mistakes are frequent, but that has to do more with some kind of failure in French schooling than anything else. It certainly needs revising. Older people don't have as much trouble writing French. That of course is another topic.

    Language grammar is an ideal and should be upheld. Rules of agreement are important to the structure of the language, be they broken or not. They should not be dumbed down to make match people's lack of instruction or make the language seem easier. Personally I think it's a shame if they made direct object agreement optional in Italian.
     
  14. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    Maybe this has more to do with the question, "why they don't want to learn spelling and grammar", than with the question, "why they can't succeed in learning them"; better schooling can help the second, but hardly the first.
     
  15. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I don't think people care one way or another about correct grammar. It's not a common topic of conversation of interest except among literary types who complain there is not much time put into it in school nowadays. Beyond agreement, the subjunctive is also often badly used nowadays, and many people have no idea how to use the simple past tense. They spontaneously make up forms whenever they try to use it.
     
  16. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    Oh yes, schooling can also help the first one. For example,
    in Dutch we have a spelling "issue" with verbal forms ending in "d", "dt" or "t". They sound the same but there is a very logical explanation behind it; you just need to be forced to think about it when you are writing. Well, when I was studying (a long time ago, I know), when we had a test, your score would have been zero if you had made only one mistake against this rule. I assure you, you only do this once and it stays in your system for the rest of your life.

    EDIT: the type of test didn't matter. It may have been a test of mathematics, history, geography, ... whatever. One "d-t-dt" mistake and your score was zero.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  17. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    On the other hand, languages do change. And many languages have lost agreement rules without any less respectable a language; notably English. Direct object agreement rules can only be explained historically and make no immediate sense in the modern language. If an agreement rule deserves to go, then it is this one.
     
  18. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    I agree languages do change, but that's not the issue. (I'm only talking about the French situation; I don't know anything about the Italian situation). Agreement is still made in oral language by educated speakers: I can not imagine someone in my circle not making the right agreement is a sentence like "Les choses qu'ils ont faites, sont impardonables". I don't deny there may be people not making the right agreement here, but I consider that to be a mistake (like there are many more mistakes people make). I don't think French is in the position yet to abandon this correspondance as it is still very alife (at least by a vast number of speakers).

    There is another "correspondance" rule however that indeed can be abolished: the one with the "se" construction (type: Il s'est lavé(es) les mains). That is one that doesn't make any sense at all and that nobody understands or is able to interpret correctly.
     
  19. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    It makes sense if you think about the direct/indirect object rule:

    Marie s'est lavée. (agreement as se is a direct object referring to Marie)
    Marie s'est lavé les mains. (se is indirect, les mains is direct but follow the verb)
    Marie se les est lavées. (se is indirect, les is the object pronoun and agrees with past participle)

    The only problem is that in this case lavé, lavée, lavés, lavés sound the same, so it's particularly hard to know what agrees with what. But no need to abolish it.
    There are cases with non-regular -er verbs where the ending can be heard and educated speakers would make it orally even in this case.

    Se dire la vérité.
    Elles se sont dit la vérité
    Elles se la sont dite.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  20. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    Do you think those French people had excellent grades in their writing tests, making the same mistakes they made outside school? If they did, I agree there is of course a problem with the system of schools; but simpler to suppose they either a) got low grades in their tests and didn't care about that, or b) made spelling right and preferred not to think about it outside school. By the way, I never saw any spelling mistakes involving agreement of participles in the French Wikipedia, which is interesting, because in many articles of the Russian Wikipedia grammar (punctuation) is awful, often even in articles marked as excellent. Very possibly, I missed a lot.

    EDIT: if teachers pay attention to their students' spelling not only in grammar classes, but in all other classes as well, that must be a very good incentive, I agree.
    Why do you think so? First, even if someone does not know the history of this feature (I don't), it still makes sense since the most important bits are easy to guess. Second, it makes sense simply because it exists and also is useful. The difference between reading and listening is that the first requires from me that I link ideas more carefully; participle agreement is exactly about such links. Why should people treat oral speech as superior (or, for that matter, inferior) to written speech? The two have different domains of use and different traditions, conditions, requirements, history.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  21. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    I have no idea on how they scored on writing tests. The issue is that the school should impose to always write correctly, not only in writing tests but always, also in tests of mathematics, history etc. That's the point I was making and that's where the education system fails. They test writing in writing tests and they stop caring when they are talking about e.g. mathematics. They should always care and the schooling system should impose that. Schooling is not only providing knowledge but it's also about cultivating attitudes.
     
  22. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    Sorry, I missed your edit when I started posting.
     
  23. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    Yes, I know that (or at least, I think I do:eek:). But there are the more difficult situations. Take e.g. a look at this thread. And, I also remember the very lively discussions at the office where I finally decided not to care anymore because nobody seemed to know how it worked in all situations.:D

    Don't worry. I should have mentioned it when I first wrote my reply: I know editing is prone to people missing what one says in the edit.
     
  24. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I said IF an agreement rule deserves to go. The community of speakers of a language has the right to decide where they want to take their language, whether to canonize a change or to stigmatize it as an "error". There is no objective criterion to tell an error from a change except consensus view by the community. I objected to the statement Rules of agreement are important to the structure of the language. French will not loose consistency or beauty or anything else, if French speakers decided to give up this particular agreement rule. But if (educated) speakers prefer to keep it... so be it. If they decide to drop it... so be it.
     
  25. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    That is one opinion. I am sure, many people won't agree. At any rate, political statements like this one goes far beyond the scope of a linguistic discussion.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  26. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    Bernd,

    I can only agree with every word of that. (I must have misinterpreted your first comment somewhere).
     
  27. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    Probably there was a misunderstanding.
    There is an historical process which leads not to agree the past participle after the auxiliar verb habere.

    Vulgar Latin/early Romance: habeba(m) littera(m) scripta(m)
    Romance Languages: avevo scritto una lettera, j'avais écrit une lettre, había escrito una letra, tinha escrito uma letra

    In Italian past participle, since XIX-XX century, doesn't agree when there is DO + che before the verb. Few agreements there are when there are first and second object pronoun before the verb. When there is third person object pronoun, past participle always agrees, in spoken and written language. Written = spoken.
    With auxiliar essere (some intransitive verbs, pronominal verbs, passive form) past participle always agrees with the subject (or third person object pronouns preceeding the verb).

    In Spanish and Portuguese there's no agreement when there is the auxiliar haber/ter. With auxiliar ser (passive form) past participle agrees. Written = spoken.

    In French there is this situation. With auxiliar avoir past participle agreement percentages are low with DO + que or with first and second person object pronouns, low with le, la, les + full post-verbal position and medium (64%) with le, la, les + empty post-verbal position. So the written form differs from the spoken one.

    Remarque de Tesnière (1959) disait:
    « Aussi bien l'usage actuel est-il purement livresque, et aujourd'hui l'accord préconisé par la grammaire ne se fait plus même dans la langue parlée courante des personnes cultivées. On dit sans sourciller : " la lettre que j'ai écrit ". La règle est morte de complications. Au-dessous d'elle, le participe antérieur français a déjà atteint le même état d'invariabilité qu'en provençal, en espagnol, en portugais et en roumain. »

    It seems that l'Académie Française tries to stop this historical process.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  28. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    You are too fast:eek:. And here I don't agree (I think). Using a language well is also a question of education, i.e. schooling, and as such, it can be part of a linguistic discussion (of course, that depends on what your definitions are). There is nobody who doubts that 5+5 should be equal to 10, whether it be in a math class or in history, geography or any other class. However, writing correctly is apparently only important in a writing test.
     
  29. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I view linguistics as a the science of how language is and not about how it should be. But I can see how one may have a different opinion. On the other hand, the statement Schooling is not only providing knowledge but it's also about cultivating attitudes certainly adds a dimension to the discussion that is not linguistic any more.
     
  30. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    I would disagree. The difference between an error and non-error is not only that of social agreement. There is also some part in it that does not depend on our wish to make agreements; some usages hinder language understanding and others don't. It is like a hammer: you can use a hammer in different ways, but some of them are uncomfortable or make the nails go badly, while other ways may be good yet unused, let's say non-fashionable. I could well agree with my friend that the word "blue" should be taken to mean "green" as well, but that would make life harder, because I would always understand him wrong at first, and so would he.
     
  31. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Some things are easier to express in one language than in another one. We all know that. That doesn't make one language "wrong" and the other "right".
     
  32. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    Sorry? What does it have to do with my post?
    Of course, my friend and I would speak a language that is different from the language of all other people around. We could find a fancy name for it, "Bluish". The problem would not be that it is different, the problem would be that we ourselves do not understand each other well enough.
     
  33. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    You said: "Some usages hinder language understanding and others don't". This means that canonizing such usages makes it more difficult to express certain things and you might have to express them in a more cumbersome way. If speakers of a language agree they accept that disadvantage then they have every right to do so. There is nothing that forces language to be maximally efficient. And real language aren't always maximally efficient.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  34. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    The essence of my post was that not always understanding of speech is conscious and can be subject to agreement, therefore not all mistakes are subject to conscious convention (as you said, "consensus view"). If people do a certain thing, it means that they, unconsciously or consciously, chose it and understand it. Good for them; but this may as well result from their lack of knowledge of some context, that other people know and that make other people unconsciously misunderstand the first people. This may also result from possessing some context that other people don't possess (firstly, the very fact that they know what they want to mean, and others don't).

    To get a more mundane example, over-repetition of words and use of words with empty meaning are (stylistic) mistakes no matter what the grammar committee decides to write in its book.

    ADD: I had not meant to write anything about efficiency. I understand my friend worse not because the two colour names in our speech have coincided, but because I have to make conscious effort to understand his naming of colours. The same problem is words with empty meaning: you have to guess what was meant. The same problem is over-repetition: you have to consciously get rid of the feeling that the repeated words refer to the same concept in the same situation.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  35. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Certainly not. By calling a repetition an "over-repetition" you make a value judgement people are not forced to agree with.
     
  36. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    They are not, indeed; they are not forced not to make mistakes. :)
    This is not so purely a value judgement, but judgement of how successful people were to mean for someone what they might want to mean. Like, my friend was unsuccessful despite our agreement: I cannot immediately understand his (and mine) scheme of naming colours.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  37. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    You lost me completely. What has all this to do with the decision whether or usage or non-usuage of a certain feature of a language, like DO-participle agreement, is a mistake or not and why such a decision should be more than pure convention.

    Speakers may decide to use the word for blue to mean green in certain contexts, like Japanese where the green colour of plants is referred to as aoi (blue). This is certainly not a "mistake" but Japanese simply divide the colour spectrum in a different way than English. Or they may decide not to differentiate between green and blue at all, like in Vietnamese where what we call green and blue are considered shades of the same colour., like we regard navy blue and sky blue as shades of the same basic colour. There is nothing inherently "right" or "wrong" with it. It is just a different convention.
     
  38. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    You see, I agree with everything except for the word "decide" (and therefore partly with the word "convention", that implies the word "decide"). Attitudes towards the text being read cannot be decided at will. So, the issue mistake/non-mistake is not purely political, it can be reasoned based on our possible knowledge about involuntary/unconscious handling of language, even if this knowledge and the kinds of reasoning associated with it cannot assure hard-and-absolute result. The base for reasoning is not "what feature is meant", but "who is going to use or disuse that feature", with the questions "what is or may be their experience with language", "what is or may be their experience in life", etc.
     
  39. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    [Have just seen your post]
    Well, I don't think this attitude is a general rule. I mean, conservative writing may be or not be prestigious, and if among wide circles of population it is not, then it survives only among those for whom it is; while if it is for many, then it survives among many. What Peterdg says – paying strict attention to grammar in all classes of school, not just those of language use – is actually, I think, a measure for making such writing prestigious rather than a measure to impose non-prestigious writing on people (the latter is an effort deemed to failure).
     
  40. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Why not? We as society can decide whether or not to give pupils who write La fille qu'il a vu rather than La fille qu'il a vue bad marks or not or (in English) pupils who write the girl who I saw rather than the girl whom I saw.
     
  41. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    The grammaticalization of past participle after the verb habere just happened long time ago and no language understanding was hindered.
    Simply past participle after the verb habere was seen as part of the verb, therefore indeclinable, and no more as an adjective (declinable).

    Spoken French is going in this direction.
    If a French professor or a journalist doesn't make past participle agreement (after the verb avoir) when he speaks with his parents or friends, without being corrected, it means that this grammaticalization is accepted.
    From the past exemples we can see that when the spoken language differs from the written one, the second adapts to the first.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  42. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Nino explained it nicely in the his post just above this one.:)
     
  43. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    I also did an example in post #27:

    Vulgar Latin/early Romance: habeba(m) littera(m) scripta(m)
    Romance Languages: avevo scritto una lettera, j'avais écritØ une lettre, había escrito una letra, tinha escrito uma letra
     
  44. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Neither can I.
    Although I must confess that some of my colleagues, and my boss, hate me for that :D (I dare not even correct them, they just hate me because I make the agreement).
    Agreed. The participle agreement does not add any information to the sentence.
    If there was a consultation among speakers about rules that should be abolished, my vote would go to that one. But the Académie française is not a democracy... :p
    Really? I should enroll as a French Wikipedia editor. I am sure I would have a lot to do. True, there is not too much automatic translation as compared to some other languages (I usually have a glance at other versions in languages I know, to look for further information).
    Spelling and grammar are not as extensively used as markers of prestige in schools as they used to be. Nowadays some students can be successful without writing well. One can even become President without being able to use simple past tense properly (see here), something unheard of +/- 30 years ago :D.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  45. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    This is not as simple as it seems. First, we cannot control their language experience anyway, even if we happen to republish all corpus of French literature. If you used to know a friend who wrote La fille qu'il a vue, you remember that. The same in the opposite case. What are your attitudes towards their writing, depends solely on you and on all experience that you had while living and that shaped your mind. Second, we should have an explanation at hand for this decision. The second is simply unconscious & involuntary.
    As a side note: I don't know whether French have such explanation or not; I do not know the French situation. I am talking in general, what is what and what leads to what. Judging by what Nanon says, I cannot conclude whether the change is imminent and soon the Académie will have to acknowledge the fait accompli, or it is very far from that. If people are angry at her, therefore they believe her, right? On the other hand, she says they are majority...
     
  46. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Learnerr, I did not say that a majority of people were angry at me - just some people are. And, immodest as it may sound, those guys must acknowledge, deep inside themselves, that they are green with envy, you are right :p. Because I stick to what is still a rule that makes sense to me. Nevertheless, if rules change, and if changes make sense, I will stick to the new rules. Therefore, no, I am neither a posh conservative nor a reincarnation of a stern school teacher :p.
    And with all due respect, I think that Tesnière's example (1959) still makes my contemporary ears cringe.
    On a side note, "la lettre que j'ai écrit" is not recent.
     
  47. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    First, as I said, I don't know whether lack of this feature in texts written by some hinders their understanding or not. Second, let's see what we mean by hindering: what I mean is that if after each statement you say BANG, then understanding is hindered. It has not become impossible; but you have to think of aside things while trying to understand. (By Nanon's expression, your ears cringe ;-) ).
    Ivenchuëli, pëhaps. Bät it mei teik ĸwait ë taim.
    Nino did not address this part. He did not say that direct object agreement cannot make any sense to French people; he only explained that this sense is unused in the spoken language, and conjectured that the written language must or will adapt to the spoken language. Nothing about any sense being made. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  48. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    Sorry for misunderstanding. Missed the word. :eek:
    As for Wikipedia, I should have expressed myself more to-the-point; with my non-native and not-used-to eyes (I read French very seldom) I of course do not notice many mistakes whose counterpart would make me bad when reading Russian, so I cannot make the direct comparison between the Wikipedias. What made me wonder is that Wikipedia Russian is more or less the same as Internet Russian, while Wikipedia French looked to me substantially better than some examples of Internet French that I had encountered. It looks that they worry for that.
     
  49. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    Yes, it could be, but if a French ear cringed every time one said la lettre que j'ai écrit there wouldn't be 66% (76%, if the post-verbal position is full) of non-agreement of the past participle in spoken language.

    We, for example, never would say Francesca l'ho visto poco fa, because one could think that there is a man called Francesca. :)
    So these "mistakes" are rare.

    There are a lot of linguists who say that past participle agreement after the verb avoir is becoming less frequent in speech.
    Ferdinand Brunot, Lucien Tesnière, Marcel Cohen (in http://books.google.it/books?id=zim...not" "lucien tesnière" "marcel cohen"&f=false) or Grevisse (La règle d'accord du participe passé conjugué avec avoir est passablement artificielle. La langue parlée la respecte très mal, et, même dans l'écrit, on trouve des manquements) or the paper object of this thread.

    If the rule of the agreement between past participle and direct object were really natural, there wouldn't be all these "mistakes".
    To me it seems that the grammaticalization of the past participle after the verb avoir, as part of the verb, is becoming more or less established in spoken language.

    If two Presidents of the Republic can say les conclusions que les ministres m'ont remis (François Mitterand) or les démarches que nous avons aussitôt entrepris (Jacque Chiac) without problems, it seems that this is habitual.

    Also Russian language has vowel reduction but despite that you write in a traditional way. :)

    The past participle agrement matter (after the verb avoir) is not an orthographic/phonetic matter.

    Ciao
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  50. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    This is one reason why the ear might cringe, but this is not the only one. And, as you say, it is unlikely that French's ears may cringe for this reason. The other reason is that some link is unobserved that someone expected to be observed; what to do, we think by links (as they say, "associations"), so the link issue is important for people, and those who have used to some way of linking may feel that it is distracting for their minds that they find those links away from sight. This may be a reason for a nice good cringe, too.
    As for speech, I agree. But the spoken language and the written language are not the same language; to put it hardly, the written language is not native to most people.
    The difference between Russian and English is that Russian is a morphology-based language, while English is based on its history of words, on its history of borrowings in particular. In Russian what is conserved are not words, but morphemes, and not so much in time, but "in space" (among many words). So, traditional? No, I would not call our spelling traditional.
    Bielarusians do without any such kinds of spelling, however.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014

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