Connectors in English and French
Université catholique de Louvain
Languages in the world differ in terms of the types of cohesive devices that they use and favour, but also in the extent to which they need to make discourse relations explicit in text. Very few studies have compared the use of connectors in English and in French. The few studies available have claimed that French is more explicitly cohesive than English. However, these conclusions rest on a weak empirical basis, and as a result are currently merely hypothetical. The primary aim of my Masters thesis was to test these claims against a large comparable corpus of editorials, focusing on the meaning relation of contrast. For that purpose, four types of explicit discourse-structuring devices were taken into account: adverbial connectors, conjunctions of coordination, conjunctions of subordination and cohesive lexical bundles. In addition to this central quantitative aim, the study includes more qualitative comparisons. A first qualitative analysis consisted in comparing connector placement patterns in English and in French. The last part of the study draws a broad semantic profile of the ten most frequent English and French connectors of contrast in the corpus, in an attempt to establish which connectors may convey which subtypes of contrast. The presentation of my thesis will be followed by a brief presentation of my PhD project, which will be both a continuation and an extension of my Master’s dissertation.