Re: Re[2]: [tied] French Gerund v. Participle

From: enlil@...
Message: 34958
Date: 2004-11-04

> Glen, the original assertion (more of an obiter dictum, but never
> mind) was that the French participial construction, although common in
> writing, is rarely used in speech. You challenge this on the basis of
> Canadian French, of which indeed I have no knowledge, so let me
> qualify the claim by restricting it to metropolitan French.

How "metropolitan"? I'm not a country bumpkin, ya know. I just sound
like one :)

Are Winnipeg and Vancouver cities metropolitan enough for you? I lived
in Winnipeg, a historically English-French city for the first 25 years
of my life. I was in the French Immersion from Kindergarten to Grade
12 and so had the majority of my courses from history to math in French,
not English. Now, Winnipeg has approximately three-quarters of a million
people. I now live in Vancouver where there are still some francophones
to be found even though it's more of an Asian-oriented city really. The
Greater Vancouver Area has about two and a half million people from
which many of the francophones, mostly imports from Quebec, no doubt
throw gerundives around without care all the time without thinking about

What does "metropolitan French" mean? Le francais parisien? If you
mean that, then of course there are as many differences between
European French and Canadian French as there are differences between
English from Great Britain and English from Canada. It wouldn't surprise
me at all that European Francophones would show a different tendency.

> Now what you are trying to prove with the above statistics from Google
> I cannot guess.

That it's not "rare". The internet is, for good or bad, often a good
sample of the natural language as people are speaking it right now.
Sure, you get the "literary" mixed up in there but the point is that
we find a good number of "non-literary" gerundives in that mix.
There are a reasonable amount of people saying "Je cherches des
personnes _parlant_ le francais" and it's not strange at all. Maybe
some think it's posh to say it this way. For me, however, I just
don't think about it and it seems just as natural to me as "Je
cherches des personnes qui parlent le francais" in both my native
English and the French I was taught in school as a child. I would
probably side more with "parlant" in French, actually, while having
a tendency to say "who speak" in English rather than "speaking".

> The point at issue is a difference between speech and writing.

That particular point is without question but I don't think it's
exactly accurate to say that this special use of the gerundive
is exclusively "literary" or "rare". It just doesn't seem to be
from my own experience if my two cents are worth anything.

= gLeN