On the role of the present indicative in variable future-time reference in Hexagonal French

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University of Toronto Press

This study investigates variable future-time expression among native speakers of Hexagonal French who participated in informal conversations. The quantitative analysis is the first to examine the inflectional future, periphrastic future, and present indicative as separate forms in a single statistical model of French oral production. Results indicate that temporal distance and presence/absence of a temporal expression predict use of these verb forms. The second phase of the analysis focused on the use of the present indicative in future-time contexts. The examination of each instance of the present indicative shows that an immediate lexical temporal indicator is not necessary for this form to convey futurity and that future-time reference is often established at the discourse level and occasionally through apparent shared knowledge between the interlocutors. This investigation suggests the value of including the present indicative in the analysis of future-time reference in Hexagonal French in order to fully capture variation.

future-time reference, present indicative, Hexagonal French, variation, temporality