Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Le passé simple n'est jamais subjectif

Lescano, Aldredo

In: Revue Tranel (Travaux neuchâtelois de linguistique), 2012, vol. 56, p. 61-76

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    This paper discusses the objections made by Olsen (2002) and Nølke & Olsen (2002) to Benveniste’s description of the French passé simple tense (Benveniste, 1959). While Benveniste states that passé simple allows to present events as if they were “narrated by themselves”, hence producing an “objective” effect, Nølke and Olsen argue that this tense is capable of expressing “subjectivity”. By adopting the Argumentative Theory of Polyphony (Carel, 2011; Carel & Ducrot, 2009; Ducrot, 2010; Lescano, 2009, in press), this work intends to show that the “subjective” value of the passé simple noted by Nølke and Olsen is but the result of the confusion of different levels of analysis, and that Benveniste’s stake must be essentially maintained, even if important adjustments must be made to it.