Languages differ in the types of devices that they use to signal discourse relations, as well as in the extent to which they need to mark these relations explicitly by means of cohesive markers. As regards the English-French language pair, the dominant position is that French tends to be more explicitly cohesive than English. In the absence of solid empirical evidence, however, this claim remains largely hypothetical. The first aim of the study is to test this assertion on an empirical basis, focusing on the meaning relation of contrast. For that purpose the powerful methods of corpus linguistics will be combined with the theoretical framework of Systemic Functional Grammar. On the basis of a comprehensive list of French and English markers of contrast analysed in large comparable and translation corpora, I will not only determine which language uses the larger number of markers of contrast overall, but I will also identify the preferences of each language for specific structural and semantic subtypes of markers. The second main objective of the study is to investigate and compare the placement patterns of adverbial markers of contrast (e.g. however, cependant) in English and French. I will try to establish whether the two languages differ not only in terms of the inherent possibilities that they offer for adverbial marker placement, but also in terms of their preferred positional patterns within the same range of possibilities. Finally the study adopts a variationist approach with a view to assessing the impact of register on the use of cohesive markers in each language.
Supervisors: S. Granger and L. Degand