The future tense system in French has undergone important reorganisations during the period from Middle to Modern French. During this period the synthetic future (parlera ‘will talk’) has changed from a system in which it expressed two semantic values to a system in which it expresses one single value. At the same time, the analytic future (va parler ‘is going to talk’) has undergone the opposite evolution having thus expanded its domain of use and covers nowadays a part of the domain formerly belonging to the synthetic future.
At the same time, it is interesting to observe a parallel between the change of the grammatical forms of the future tenses and their acquisition by learners of FLE. Indeed, the learners seem to master the future tense form in progression (i.e. the analytic future) earlier than the future tense form in the process of reduction (i.e. the synthetic future). Furthermore, they tend to use the analytic future as their default form.
In this contribution, three major factors are proposed as an explanation of this order of acquisition: 1. The frequency of the future tense forms in the oral and written input that the students receive in and outside the classroom; 2. The transfer from the students’ native language (Danish) which only possesses an analytical future form (will + infinitive); 3. The relation between the form and the function of the two future tenses.
Finally, it is discussed to which extent the linguistic forms in the process of reduction should be taught.
Copyright (c) 2019 Jan Lindschouw, Stephanie Kim Löbl
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