Publication |Sophia Linguistica

The Effects of Speaker Assumption on Modal Selection in the Subordinate Clause of Verbs of Opinion


Daisuke Inoue


The purpose of this paper is to explain modal choice of subordinate clauses in the
construction of Crois-tu que P? (Do you think that P?) phrases in modern French. Previous
research has shown that it is the speaker’s attitude which decides whether the subjunctive
or the indicative should be used in subordinate clauses. In other words, when the speaker
has doubts about the truth of a proposition, the subjunctive emerges. On the other hand,
the indicative appears when the speaker thinks that what is stated in proposition is true.
However, in Frantext, a corpus constructed by the French government, both the speakers
and interlocutor’s attitudes towards the truthfulness of what is stated in the subordinate
clause seems to affect modal choice. In order to explain this phenomenon, it seems
necessary to make a hypothesis that the speaker makes an assumption on what the listener
thinks and makes a decision on modal choice. Thus, research was conducted on how this
factor can influence choice of the subjunctive form in French from the viewpoint of Prise
en charge (commitment), which is often linked to the notion of truth in French linguistics.