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The semantics of particles: advantages of a contrastive and panchronic approach: a study of the polysemy of French deja and Italian gia (1).


In this article, we propose a contrastive, panchronic method of semantic-pragmatic analysis, which we find particularly useful for uncovering the subtle distinctions of meaning and use that are characteristic of particle(-like expression)s in many languages. By way of illustration, we offer an in-depth analysis of the synchronic uses and diachronic development of two cognate particles from two Romance languages, namely French deja and Italian gia, equivalent in some of their most salient uses to English already. Synchronically, we have identified fifteen different uses of deja and gift, of which eight are shared between the two particles. We argue that both the gradual diachronic expansion of the range of uses of both items, and the small, but nevertheless clear, differences of use among the two that we observe in synchrony, support an analysis in terms of polysemy, as opposed to monosemy. What we propose is in the first instance a synchronic description of the two particles. The diachronic facts adduced are principally used to support our contention that deja and gia are polysemous, and as an additional tool for identifying which uses should be regarded as separate senses.

1. Introduction

The semantics and pragmatics of aspectual particles like English already, still and yet, and their equivalents in other languages, have been the object of a running discussion at least since Traugott and Waterhouse (1969). A central question has been how to appropriately represent the coded meaning of these items, given that, crosslinguistically, they not only tend to be polyfunctional, but are, in almost all their uses, non-truth-conditional, and invariably incorporate reference to contextual assumptions of various kinds as a crucial part of their meaning.

In this article, we propose a contrastive, panchronic method of semantic-pragmatic analysis, which we feel is particularly useful for uncovering the subtle distinctions of meaning and use that are characteristic of these and similar particle(-like expression)s in many languages. Specifically, we will analyze the synchronic uses and diachronic development of two cognate particles from two Romance languages, namely French deja and Italian gia, equivalent in some of their most salient uses to English already. (2) These two lexemes strike us as being good test items for our approach given that, (i) they both originate in the same etymon, namely the Latin demonstrative IAM (cf. Kroon and Risselada 2003); (ii) in both languages, they feature an unusually wide range of functions, which, as shown in Table 1 below, are largely, but not completely, similar; (iii) for both languages, large amounts of corpus data, both synchronic and diachronic, are easily accessible.

We may note, moreover, that on a purely descriptive level, unified analyses of the various uses of the particles in question are scarce, if not inexistent: thus, while previous analyses of deja do exist (Franckel 1989; Hansen 2000, 2003), we believe that they may be improved upon, and to our knowledge, no one has yet presented a unified description of gia.

Synchronically, we have identified fifteen different uses of deja and gia, as shown in Table 1 (where numbers in parentheses refer to the section of the article where the use in question is discussed), of which eight are shared between the two particles. As shown in Table 1, these fifteen uses can be grouped into four broader notional domains. Note that English already constitutes an idiomatic translation of only four of these uses, one of which is quite marginal in French and Italian (although not in Romance as such).

Such similarities of use, which are also found between either of the two particles, on the one hand, and their Latin etymon or their modern Spanish counterpart ya, on the other (cf. Garrido 1992; Gonzalez 1998), may seem entirely unremarkable given the close relationship both among the individual Romance languages, and between the Romance languages in general and their mother language Latin.

However, first of all, diachronic analysis suggests that the full range of contemporary meanings was not present from the birth of the lexeme in either French or Italian. Indeed, both particles extend their range of uses over periods of several centuries, starting at very different times. They must therefore have evolved in at least partial independence of one another ("partial" because we cannot, of course, exclude contact between the two neighboring languages as a contributing factor). Secondly, and equally importantly, we do find several uses that are specific to either of the two languages, and which are in some cases reminiscent of yet other uses specific to either Spanish or Latin.

Both the gradual diachronic expansion of the range of uses of both items, and the small, but nevertheless clear, differences of use among the two that we observe in synchrony, seem to us to support an analysis in terms of polysemy, as opposed to monosemy. We realize, of course, that, as a matter of principle, neither historical nor contrastive data can constitute actual proof of the existence of language-particular synchronic polysemy; we do think, however, that such data can make the assumption of polysemy more probable, because the alternative assumption, according to which the adverbs under study are monosemous in either or both languages, will leave a number of facts unaccounted for.

Starting with the synchronic facts, existing analyses of these and cognate adverbs in both Romance and Germanic languages (e.g. Traugott and Waterhouse 1969; Doherty 1973; Muller 1975; Konig 1977; Hoepelman and Rohrer 1980; Martin 1980; Vet 1980; Valikangas 1982; Lobner 1989, 1999; Garrido 1992; Vandeweghe 1992; Michaelis 1992, 1996; van der Auwera 1993, 1998) show that what we will call the "basic" phasal sense (cf. Section 2.1 below) has essentially identical properties in a wide range of European languages. Moreover, as foreign language learners/ teachers, we have never experienced any difficulty mastering or getting our students to master this "basic" phasal sense in other languages. This suggests that representations of that sense are likely to be similar for speakers of the different languages in question. However, several other uses of deja and gia do present problems for learners, so if the adverbs are monosemous, their semantic representations in different languages must be substantially different after all, an assumption which makes the ease with which the phasal sense, in particular, is acquired rather puzzling.

As for the diachronic aspect, while we are not claiming that synchronic category structure necessarily recapitulates diachronic development (although nothing, of course, precludes such a state of affairs in principle), it does seem to us that monosemy analyses are called into question if it can be shown that not all the synchronically possible uses of a given lexical item were available at some other diachronic stage of the language. Given that a great many lexical items are continually developing new uses that were not previously in existence, the monosemy assumption seems to entail that language users must qualitatively reorganize their semantic representations at regular intervals. This strikes us as not only uneconomical, but also as descriptively and theoretically unsatisfying, in as much as it precludes a principled account of the gradual nature of the process of change itself (cf. Traugott and Dasher 2002: 16).

Given the undeniably very close semantic relationship between our "twin" particles (a term borrowed from Fleischman 1998), not only the similarities, but also whatever differences we find between them, may be argued to give us, on the one hand, a good indication of the direction in which the most basic meaning of both of them, from which other uses may be assumed to have derived diachronically, should be sought, and on the other hand, valuable clues for a synchronic description of their precise range of senses, and the elements which should be included in a semantic description of these items (cf. Rossari 1994, 1996). (3)

What we will be proposing is thus in the first instance a synchronic description of the two particles. The diachronic facts adduced will principally be used to support our contention that deja and gia are polysemous, and as an additional tool for identifying which uses should be regarded as separate senses. That is, if our diachronic data show that use B appears substantially later than use A, we will assume as a working hypothesis that they are distinct senses, whereas if two uses, C and D, appear to coexist at any historical stage, and the interpretative difference between them can be attributed to linguistic context, then we assume--again as a working hypothesis--that they are in fact different contextual modulations on one and the same sense.

Our approach to lexical semantics can be situated within the framework of what Kleiber (1990: Ch. IV) calls the "extended version" of prototype theory. Unlike the "standard" version, the extended version is geared in particular towards semasiological analysis (cf. also Koch 1996), regarding individual lexical items as cognitive categories, whose structure is in need of explication. The term "prototype theory" is actually somewhat of a misnomer for this framework, given that family resemblances in the sense of Wittgenstein (1971: Sect. 66-67) are recognized as a central organizing principle alongside prototypes. This means two things: first, that lexical items may, but need not, have a "central" sense constituting the prototypical use of that item; and secondly, any given sense of a lexical item may, but need not, have properties in common with all and any of the others. In other words, it is possible for a lexeme to possess several senses that are equally salient in synchrony, and, although any two senses must be linked to one another somehow, they may be so only indirectly, through the intermediary of one or more other senses. With respect to the diachronic angle, Bosco and Bazzanella (2005) observe that an approach of this type allows for a non-unilinear view of semantic change. From both the synchronic and the diachronic point of view, then, our approach prepares us for the possibility that lexical items may be structured as quite complex networks of senses.

As pointed out to us by an anonymous referee, our approach appears to have great deal in common with the semantic map method developed, among others, by Haspelmath (2003) for the analysis of grammatical meaning. This method likewise relies on crosslinguistic comparison of differential uses of similar forms, and, although its aims are principally synchronic-typological, it is capable of integrating diachronic data. As far as we have been able to determine, the method has thus far not been used in lexical semantics.

One property of semantic maps as conceived by Haspelmath (2003) is that they are intended to make predictions about possible uses of corresponding grammatical forms in various languages, the claim being that uses that are contiguous on the map are more similar, whereas uses that are further from one another are less so, and that the uses represented in any one language must occupy a coherent region of the map. As far as we can tell, it is not unlikely that this hypothesis may be tenable in the case of polyfunctional pragmatic particles as well, and the exploration of this possibility will certainly constitute a fascinating future challenge for particle research. However, although in the conclusion to this article, we will present our analysis of deja and gia in the form of a network/semantic map, we will, for the time being, explicitly refrain from making any typological claims.

The structure of the article is as follows: We begin by discussing the diverse, and synchronically highly salient, temporal/aspectual uses of the two adverbs. We then move on to a set of uses in which the adverbs are basically modal in nature. Thirdly, we consider uses of deja and gia as (part of) pragmatic connectives. We finish by considering a few uses of both items in which they serve mainly interactional purposes. In all cases, we take the syntactic and inferential properties of the markers into account in attempting to determine whether particular readings of either deja or gia represent coded meanings, i.e., polysemies, or are rather contextually determined modulations of some more basic meaning. We will argue that most of the uses considered do represent actual polysemies, but that, except for the original aspectual meaning, each new polysemy is motivated by potential inferences arising from the use of a prior coded meaning, such inferences being gradually conventionalized allowing the new meanings to appear in contexts where the original ones are not found. Our approach is thus compatible with Traugott and Dasher's (2002) Invited Inferencing Theory of Semantic Change, and, especially where French is concerned, the diachronic evidence appears to support the unidirectional tendencies of semantic change identified by these authors. That aspect will, however, not be treated in depth here.

2. Aspectual uses of deja and gia

Deja and gia both have two different aspectual meanings, in which they have sentential scope: one meaning in which they focalize either the initial phase of the state-of-affairs (henceforth SoA) e denoted by the sentence, as in (1), and a second, iterative, meaning, exemplified in (2):

(1) Il dort deja? (4) 'Is he already asleep?'

(2) Hai gia mangiato i calamari? 'Have you ever eaten squid?'

2.1. Phasal sense

What we will call the "phasal" sense (following Lobner 1989) appears to be the "basic" sense of the two adverbs.

In the context of the present article, "basic" sense should be understood as the diachronically prior sense, from which other, more recent sense extensions have presumably been derived. The term "basic" should thus not be understood as implying that the sense in question is also NECESSARILY either the most frequent in contemporary texts or, indeed, the one which is cognitively most salient to speakers, although, of course, a priori neither possibility is excluded (indeed, in both languages, the phasal sense is both frequent and highly salient). Nor should it be interpreted as a claim that this particular sense is the only one that is semantically relevant, all other readings being mere pragmatic modulations. On the contrary, it is our view that what is originally a contextually determined extension of an established sense may well, over time, come to be conventionalized as a full-fledged sense in its own right, and may even give rise to sense extensions of its own.

In the phasal use, our two adverbs are compatible primarily with imperfective predicates (states and activities). Thus, they will not normally occur with the perfective past. They may, however, co-occur with compound perfect tenses, in as much as these can in fact be regarded as imperfectivizing operators (cf. Herweg 1992: 390).

Following Doherty (1973: 175), we will say that phasal deja/gia assert that the state-of-affairs (SoA) e expressed in their host sentence has begun prior to a topic time TT, understood as the time with respect to which the main claim of the utterance is made (cf. Klein 1992), that is, the initial phase of e has occurred at TT. (5) Given that, as mentioned above, deja and gia are compatible primarily with imperfective predicates, one may moreover infer that e still holds at TT, in as much as imperfective situations subsume their reference time. Nothing is said about the medial and final phases of e, and the continued existence of e at any time following TT is thus left to contextual inference. (6)

By insisting specifically on the instantiation of the initial phase of e, deja/gia carry a generalized conversational implicature (cf. Grice 1975; Levinson 2000) to the effect that a change of state has taken place, such that ,,~e was the case at some point TT-n preceding TT. This means that so-called "gnomic" sentences will normally be infelicitous with deja/gia unless a special universe of discourse, which cancels the gnomicity, has been established by the prior context, as shown by (3):

(3) ??La terra gira gia attorno il sole. 'The Earth already revolves around the sun.'

Posing the idea of a change of state as generally implicated, as opposed to either entailed or presupposed (e.g., Doherty 1973, Muller 1975, Vet 1980, Lobner 1989, 1999), by the use of deja/gia allows us to obviate certain potential counterexamples to the generalization expressed by our acceptability judgment of (3), which may be found in the literature (e.g., Mittwoch 1993; van der Auwera 1993; Michaelis 1996), and which pose problems for semantic accounts of the change-of-state meaning that is prototypically conveyed by deja. Such alleged counterexamples include equivalents of the following:

(4) A. Je viens d'obtenir la nationalite francaise. 'I have just obtained French citizenship.'

B. Et votre mari? 'And what about your husband?'

A. Il n'a pas besoin d'en faire la demande, car, etant ne en France, il est deja francais. 'He does not need to apply, for he was born in France, and is therefore already French.'

(5) Deux plus deux faisaient deja quatre avant le Big Bang. 'Two plus two were already four before the Big Bang.'

Contrary to entailments, implicatures can, of course, be canceled contextually. What deja/gia do in these examples is merely to point out that the state of affairs e in question (i.e., in [4], that of the speaker's husband being French, and in [5], that of 2 + 2 equaling 4) has, by TT, completed its inception at least. This is compatible with a situation in which e has, in fact, always been the case. (7)

What is more, such examples suggest that a strictly objectivist description of these markers is insufficient, in as much as a full understanding of their use must take into account presumed knowledge states of contextually relevant individuals. Thus, we would claim that the use of deja in these examples is addressed to the existence of potential contextual assumptions that ~e might be the case at topic time (and moreover, in the case of (4), the idea that some process might need to be undertaken in order to bring e about), assumptions which are corrected at utterance time (which may or may not be identical to TT), by the deja-marked utterances. A cognitive-pragmatic approach thus appears indispensable if one is to be able to account adequately for the use of these adverbs.

By thus implicating a prior change of state, deja/gia implicitly contrast the SoA they mark with one of the opposite polarity, ~e. Besides asserting the instantiation of the initial phase of e prior to TT, and implicating ~e at TT-n, deja/gia also appear have an evaluative element of meaning. That is, they convey that things might have been otherwise, that is, that ~e might have still have been the case at TT. Both adverbs therefore have a modal nuance, even in this basically temporal use.

Essentially, this modal nuance takes the form of an implicature to the effect that, to at least some virtual individual (who may or may not be identical to either the speaker, the hearer, or both), e has occurred relatively early with respect to what might have been expected. Whether this element of meaning is a presupposition, a conventional or a mere conversational implicature is a matter of controversy (e.g., Hoepelman and Rohrer 1980; Martin 1980; Lobner 1989, 1999; van der Auwera 1993, 1998). In our view, the oddness of (6)-(7) on a nonironic interpretation shows that both deja and gia do indeed convey such a sense of earliness in these examples, and as we see no way to cancel this element of sense, we must be dealing with a conventional, as opposed to a purely conversational, implicature:

(6) ??Piero e gia arrivato, con tre ore di ritardo. 'Piero has already arrived, three hours late.'

(7) ??Jacques s'est deja marie a 65 ans. 'Jacques already got married at 65 years of age.'

Again, a cognitive-pragmatic account of the adverb--as opposed to a purely objectivist one--is necessary, for it is clearly objectively possible for a man to marry for the first time at an even older age than 65, and yet--while the use of deja/gia does not make (7) false, it is odd. To understand this oddness, we must operate with the existence of a conventionalized conceptual frame, according to which men usually marry for the first time well before the age of 65, at least in Western culture.

The idea of counter-expectation may, however, be quite weak. Such is frequently the case particularly in explicitly comparative constructions like (8) (adapted from Michaelis 1996: 492). Here, there is not necessarily any sense in which the departure of some of the guests at TT is not entirely within the norm:

(8) Quegli degli invitati che erano ancora li hanno parlato di quelli che erano gia partiti. 'Those of the guests who were still there talked about the ones who had already left.'

However, the comparison with the remaining guests serves to underscore the fact that the departed guests might in fact have chosen to stay, their departure thus being seen as early at least as compared to the contrasting set of guests. As such, even this type of example retains a modal (counterfactual) nuance.

2.2. Iterative use

Iterative deja and gia are found only with compound perfects (whether present, past or future), as in (9). Compound perfects are, as noted above, imperfectivizing operators, which express a state of aftermath following an implied event. As pointed out by Muller (1975: 14), deja (and by the same token, gia, with which Muller is not concerned) in this use scopes an implicit or explicit quantifier over the number of occasions on which the SoA is claimed to have held.

(9) Tu as deja mange des calamars? 'Have you ever eaten squid?'

That this sense of the adverbs is not identical to the phasal one--which, of course, is also found with compound verb forms--is supported not only by the fact that, whereas phasal deja is negated by ne ... pas encore ('not yet'), iterative deja is negated by ne ... jamais ('never'), cf. (10)-(11), but also by the zeugmatic feel that B's answer in (12) has in a context where it is common knowledge that Pierre is not currently present, but may well have eaten squid on some previous occasion. Moreover, in both languages, the iterative use appears to be some 100 years younger than the phasal use. Note also that English already is not usually an appropriate translation of this use of deja/gia:

(10) a. Est-ce qu'Anne a deja mange ses calamars? 'Did Anne already eat her squid?'

b. Non, elle n e les a pas encore manges. 'No, she didn't eat it yet.'

(11) a. Est-ce qu'Anne a deja mange des calamars? 'Has Anne ever eaten squid?'--

b. Non, elle n'en a jamais mange. 'No, she has never eaten that.'

(12) a. Les calamars sont delicieux. Vas-y, sers-toi! 'The squid is delicious. Go ahead, have some!'

b. ?J'en ai deja mange, et Pierre aussi, d'ailleurs. 'I've already had some, and so has Pierre, by the way.'

One might question the appropriateness of the term "iterative" with respect to this particular use of deja/gia, for although sentences such as (9) will frequently be uttered in a context where the hearer is eating, or is about to eat, squid again, this is not necessarily the case. Our reason for calling this use of deja/gia iterative is twofold: for one thing, the implied event may have been completed more than once at TT; and secondly, the adverbs cannot be used in this way unless the SoA in question may at least conceivably occur again in the future, hence the oddness of utterances like (13)--first observed by Muller (1975: 14): (8)

(13) [Speaking at a funeral] ??Ha gia fatto del bene nella sua vita. 'He has [gia] done some good in his life.'

It should be noted, moreover, that iterative deja and gia differ from their phasal counterparts in as much as the former never carry a CONVENTIONAL implicature to the effect that the (first) completion of the implied event has occurred earlier than might have been expected, but are rather completely neutral on this point (as such, they are of course compatible with a CONVERSATIONAL implicature to that effect).

It is probable that this use of deja and gift is a crystallization of what may originally have been a contextual side effect of the phasal adverb when used with the perfect tense. Thus, a speaker who utters (14) is saying that at R, George is in an unalterable state of having had his car stolen. The implied prior action of someone actually stealing the car need not be contiguous to TT, but may have taken place at any moment TT-n < TT, or even at several distinct moments. This is especially true in French and Italian, where the perfect tense is commonly used as an alternative to the perfective past tense.

(14) Georges s'est fait voler sa voiture. 'George's car has been stolen.'

Now, when deja or gia is added to the sentence, the focus is on the inception of the state in question, i.e., the phase just following the completion of the implied event. Both the event itself and its subsequent result will be implied by such a sentence, but depending on the context, one or the other may be more salient, giving us the two different interpretations:

(15) Georges s'est deja fait voler sa voiture, et cela ne fait que trois semaines qu'il l'a achetee. 'George's car has already been stolen, and he only bought it three weeks ago.'

(16) Georges s'est deja fait voler sa voiture. C'etait en 1976. 'George's car got stolen once. That was in 1976.'

The rise of this use is probably favored by the use of deja/gia in comparative constructions like (8) above, where, as we saw, the nuance of actual prematurity is absent, or at least backgrounded, such that deja/gia appear to indicate simply that the implied event has taken place prior to TT, in contrast to some other event which has yet to occur.

Moreover, we may speculate that such a use of deja/gia is also favored by the fact that it appears to contribute to the disambiguation of the compound perfect form as such: As is well known, there are three potential interpretations of a compound perfect in Romance, namely as a resultative perfect (i.e., denoting a past event with present results), as an experiential perfect (i.e., denoting an event which has occurred one or more times in the past), and--in the case of the present perfect only--as a variant of the perfective past tense in informal registers. Now, sentences like (17), which contain no temporal adverbs, will intuitively tend to be read as either resultative perfects or perfective pasts, but not as experiential perfects. The same sentences containing iterative deja/gia, on the other hand, appear to favor an experiential reading of the perfect.

(17) Anna ha mangiato i calamari. 'Anne has eaten/ate squid.'

2.3. Indefinite-past use of gia

In Italian, iterative gia, which--as we have seen--does not carry the conventional implicature of prematurity that we find in the phasal sense, appears semantically related to an evaluatively neutral use of the adverb to indicate an indefinite past time. In this use, which, like the iterative one, dates back to the mid-fourteenth century, but which is largely obsolete in contemporary Italian, gia occurs almost exclusively with past-time (prototypically perfective) forms of the verb essere ('to be'), and functions as a variant of una volta (= once), cf. (18). Unlike iterative gia, however, use of indefinite-past gia crucially does not presuppose that the SoA may recur, and since it co-occurs with simple--as opposed to compound--tenses, gia will, in such examples, conversationally implicate that the SoA is no longer actual at utterance time.

(18) In Firenze fu gia un giovane chiamato Federigo. 'In Florence there was once a young man named Federigo.' (Boccaccio, Decameron, 1348-1353, from the LIZ corpus)

There is no indication in texts dating back to the fifteenth century, when the form deja/desja first appeared, that such a use was ever possible in French.

2.4. (Quasi-)adjectival use of gia

This latter "once upon a time" reading of gia is most likely the source of another use which is likewise specific to Italian, and which is still current, namely what we have chosen to call the (quasi-)adjectival use. Here, gia is typically translatable as "former" or "ex-", as in (19)-(20), and sometimes as "late", as in (21):

(19) Giuliano Vassalli, Senatore della Repubblica, gia Ministro di Grazia e Giustizia 'G.V., Senator of the Republic, former Minister of Justice' (

(20) Il gia ministro di Grazia e Giustizia, Giuliano Vassalli 'The former Minister of Justice, G.V.'

(21) Lorenzo, figlio del gia Peregrino Valasenieri e Laura Magati 'Dr L., son of the late P.V. and L.M.' (

We noted above that the "once upon a time" reading of gia would typically conversationally implicate that the state-of-affairs in question was no longer actual at utterance time. In the (quasi-)adjectival use of the marker, this implicature has been conventionalized, and, instead of applying at utterance time, it now applies at topic time.

In (19), gia marks an apposition to a nominal and its syntactic status is strictly speaking ambiguous between that of an adjective and that of an adverb. In both this and the following example, it codes that the expression in its scope is no longer applicable to the referent of the associated NP at TT (which may or may not be identical to utterance time).

Examples (20) and (21) both clearly instantiate a properly adjectival use. In (20), gia has essentially the same meaning as in (19), while in (21), it indicates that the REFERENT of the proper name in its scope is, so to speak, no longer actual, i.e., he is dead. Given that gia has changed its categorial status here, what we have is an instance of lexicalization of a particle having largely the status of a function word, as a member of the major syntactic category "adjective". We are thus not surprised to find the use in appositions to be the older of the two structures, going back to the latter half of the thirteenth century. The adjectival use, on the other hand, is attested only from the sixteenth century onwards in our data, and is likely to be the result of a reanalysis of appositional gia, which occurs in a syntactic slot that is, in principle, appropriate for both adverbs and adjectives.

2.5. Temporal focus-particle use

Both adverbs have a use where they focus on a temporal adverbial, rather than the predicate of the sentence. As shown by (24), they will move with the focus constituent, and they form an intonational unit with this constituent. Moreover, as the examples show, they may occur either immediately before or immediately after the focus expression, and in some cases even between a preposition and its complement (cf. [23]). In structures of this type, deja/gia thus function as focus particles (cf. Nolke 1983; Konig 1991).

(22) Je l'attends deja depuis deux heures.

(23) Je l'attends depuis deja deux heures.

(24) Depuis deux heures deja, je l'attends. 'I've been waiting for him/her for two hours already.'

(25) Gia all'eta di sette anni leggeva il latino senza problemi.

(26) All'eta di sette anni gia, leggeva il latino senza problemi. 'Already at the age of seven, he read Latin without any problem.'

Examples like (25) and (26), in which the temporal expression focused by deja/gia is punctual, have the exact same truth conditions as the corresponding sentence containing a sentence-adverbial deja/gia, and they convey a similar conventional implicature of relatively early instantiation.

(27) Leggeva gia il latino senza problema all'eta di sette anni. 'He already read Latin without any problem at the age of seven.'

When the focus constituent is a durative adverbial, however, as in (22)-(24), deja/gia implicate that the period in question is longer than one might have expected. Nevertheless, it can be argued that all the examples in (22)-(26) continue to involve the idea that something has occurred earlier than expected; thus, when the sentence contains a durative adverbial like depuis deux heures/da due ore, deja/gia express that the transition between a period prior to TT which can truthfully be described as "for less than two hours" and the inception of one which may be described as "for two hours" has occurred sooner than one might have thought.

In many (although not all) cases, there is actually little difference in meaning between the basic phasal use and the focus-particle use of the two items, but the fact that we have no examples of the latter use in Italian texts prior to the fourteenth century, nor in French texts prior to the seventeenth century, suggests that it cannot straightforwardly be identified with the former in either language, but must constitute an extension of it.

A further indication of this is that, whereas deja/gia in their phasal and iterative uses can in some sense be said to contrast with equivalents of encore/ancora, as in (28)-(31), in their focus particle use, they appear rather to contrast with ne ... que/seul(ement) and solo ('only'), respectively, cf. (32)-(33): (9)

(28) Les enfants dorment deja. 'The children are already sleeping.'

(29) Les enfants dorment encore. 'The children are still sleeping.'

(30) Anna ha gia visitato Notre-Dame. 'Anne has visited the Notre-Dame before.'

(31) Anna andra ancora a visitare Notre-Dame. 'Anne will visit the Notre-Dame again.'

(32) Je n e l'attends que depuis 5 minutes. 'I've only been waiting for him/her for five minutes.'

(33) Il lisait le francais sans probleme/t l'age de 14 ans seulement. 'It was only at the age of 14 that he read French/Italian without problems.'

Finally, on the border between a temporal and a nontemporal focus-particle use, we find examples like (34), where deja/gia take an NP as their focus (frequently, but not necessarily, a proper noun, as in the example given) which is indirectly, i.e., via encyclopedic knowledge, associated with a specific time period:

(34) Deja Aristote disait cela. 'Lit.: Already Aristotle said that.'

2.5. Semantic status of the temporal-aspectual uses

Our contrastive synchronic analysis of the temporal-aspectual uses of deja/gia has shown that three of the uses in this group are not only common to the two languages, but also semantically so close that they might conceivably be described as modulations on a single abstract "core" sense. With respect to the last two, the indefinite-past use and the quasi-adjectival use, which are found only in Italian, and which--if translated literally--would hardly be interpretable to a French speaker, it seems, however, counter-intuitive to subsume them under such a "core" sense, given that their content is exactly the opposite of that of the three other uses: in the latter the SoA e scoped by the particle must be actual at TT, whereas in the two uses in question, e is precisely no longer actual at TT. This is a first indication that gia, at least, is polysemous in modern Italian. A further, weaker indication that both particles are polysemous comes from the fact that the iterative use, which they share, is not idiomatically translated by English already, whereas the phasal and focusparticle uses are found in similar contexts in all three languages.

The diachronic analysis adds further support to the polysemy hypothesis, in as much as we observed that whereas the phasal use is available from the birth of either lexeme, the iterative, the indefinite-past, the quasi-adjectival, and the focus-particle uses are all significantly later extensions.

3. "Modal" uses

In the second group of uses, dija/gia have clearly moved out of the temporal/aspectual realm, and their meanings may be described as modal in nature. Nothing much hinges on this choice of term, which we use lato sensu, to indicate that, in these uses, our markers expresses a subjective evaluation, and that they, moreover, implicitly invite comparison with an opposite state-of-affairs. We will divide the uses in question into four different categories, the fourth of which is specific to Italian. As for the former three, they appear to differ essentially in terms of the type of items with which dija/gia collocate, and very little in terms of the actual semantic substance expressed by the adverbs.

3.1. "Scalar" use

In what we call the "scalar" use, deja/gia again function as standard sentence adverbials, and they are used in connection with gradable or scalar predicates, as in (35). The reason we put "scalar" in scare quotes is that, in our view, deja/gia are not in fact scalar markers in and of themselves--rather, in this use, they combine with predicates that are scalar in nature. Thus, given the scale <qualcosa, molto> (<'something', 'a lot'>), where qualcosa constitutes the weaker item, the truth of (35) will entail the truth of (36):

(35) E gia molto se recupero le spese. 'It's a pretty big thing in itself if I recover the outlay.' (10)

(36) E qualcosa se recupero le spese. 'It's something if I recover the outlay.'

Moreover, the truth of a sentence like (35) with an inherently scalar predicate allows, in principle, for the truthful application of a predicate higher up on the scale, but will, at the same time, carry a generalized conversational quantity implicature to the effect that the stronger proposition does not, in fact, hold (cf. Horn 1989; Levinson 2000): (11)

(37) C'est deja bien! En fait, c'est meme super! 'That's pretty good in itself! In fact, it's even great!'

In all cases, deja/gia indicate that the predicate chosen to describe the SoA in question is located higher up on the scale of values than might have been expected. As such, the "scalar" use of the adverbs is related metonymically to the temporal one by subjectification (cf. Traugott and Dasher 2002: 30), in so far as the temporal sense already has an evaluative notion, namely that of prematurity, as part of its meaning. In this sense, the notion of objective movement along the time line implies that of subjective mental scanning of a scale of values. Parallel to the basic phasal use, where deja/gia mark that events have progressed far enough along the time line for the inception of the state-of-affairs e to be a fact at reference time, "scalar" deja/gia mark that, at TT, the situation has evolved sufficiently for a given point on the value scale to be applicable to its description.

Given that we have found this use in Italian texts only from the fifteenth century onwards, and in French only from the end of the seventeenth century, and given that "scalar" deja/gia (along with the other modal uses of the adverbs) cannot be negated, and cannot receive nuclear stress in assertive contexts, except metalinguistically at best (cf. [38]-[39], and have no "absolute" uses (cf. [40]), it is our claim that we are dealing here with a full-fledged new sense of the two lexemes, which, although it is motivated by the basic phasal sense, can nevertheless not be fully accounted for as a mere contextual modulation of that sense:

(38) ?*Non e gia/ancora molto se recupero le spese. 'It is not already/not yet a pretty big thing if I recover the outlay.'

(39) ?*E GIA molto se recupero le spese.

(40) A. C'est bient 'That good!'

B. *Deja! *Deja!

3.2. Marginality use

This use (which, to our knowledge, was first noted by Konig [1977]) is in many ways similar to the scalar one, except that the predicates to which deja/gia apply are not inherently scalar in nature. In examples of this type deja/gia imply that the entity or category denoted by the predicate is one which possesses an internal structure, and that the conceptualizer is performing a mental directed scan of that category. At the very least, as in concrete cases like (41), this notion of internal structure implies the existence of a center and a periphery. In more abstract cases like (42) (which, incidentally, seem somewhat more marginally acceptable in Italian, in as much as native-speaker informants tend to find the insertion of un tipo di preferable), what is implied is that the category is endowed with an actual prototype structure:

(41) Menton, c'est deja la France. 'Menton is already in France.'

(42) Un pinguino e gia un (tipo di) uccello. 'A penguin, now, that's a (type of) bird.'

Moreover, deja/gia imply that the referent of the subject expression is a more peripheral instance of the category expressed in the predicate, hence the term "marginality use" (inspired by Konig [1977:184]). Thus, the following examples strike us as distinctly odd:

(43) ??Paris, c'est deja la France. 'Paris is already in France.'

(44) ??Un passero e gia un (tipo di) uccello. 'A sparrow, now, that's a (type of) bird.'

Now, in French, this use is found only from the nineteenth century onwards, and in Italian, we have no attested examples at all (although native speakers accept constructed examples). Together with the oddity of (43) and (44), this suggests that, although intuitively similar in meaning to the "scalar" use, the marginality use is nevertheless a distinct extension, given that the "scalar" use is, as we saw, compatible with values high on the relevant scale. (12) This is supported by the lack of an entailment relation from more to less central exemplars or vice versa: Un pinguino e gia un (tipo) di) uccello logically entails neither Un passero un (tipo) di uccello nor Uno struzzo e un (tipo di) uccello ('An ostrich is a [type of] bird').

In our view, it is likely that the marginality use is derived from the "scalar" use, in as much as it appears to be yet more subjective. At the same time, the parallels between the two are fairly clear: the lower vs. higher rungs on the scale have in the marginality use been projected onto the peripheral vs. central exemplars of the category, which implies that, just as the direction of scanning must in the "scalar" use go from the lower towards the higher rungs, it must, in the marginality use move from the periphery towards the center.

The marginality use retains a link to the basic temporal/aspectual use" firstly, the mental category scan being performed can be assumed to occupy a certain (if small) amount of time; and secondly, deja/gia mark that the subject referent is so marginal with respect to the predicate category that the transition between the exterior and the interior of that category may be said to have been completed at an earlier point in the scanning process than one might have expected.

3.3. Nontemporal focus-particle use

If the Aristotle example in (34) above can be said to be on the borderline between a temporal and a non-temporal use, that border has been crossed in examples like (45), in which deja/gia again appear to function as focus particles, but with a meaning which is quite similar to that of the "scalar" use we saw earlier. In Italian the two focus-particle uses appear at roughly the same time, in the fourteenth century, but in French the nontemporal use seems to be a good deal more recent than the temporal use, and is first attested in our data at the very end of the eighteenth century.

What is implied in these examples is the existence of an ordered series of entities that can conceivably function as arguments for the predicate of the sentence (thus, in this specific case, entities which are displeasing to the speaker). These entities are ordered according to their probability of actually being used as arguments of this predicate in the specific context of utterance. In other words, we are dealing with a purely pragmatic, ad hoc scale, as opposed to the semantic scales that are appealed to in the "scalar" sentence-adverbial use. With respect to (45), such a pragmatic scale could for instance consist of the following: il suo nome ('his name') [right arrow] la sua faccia ('his face') [right arrow] il suo comportamento ('his behavior').

(45) Gia la sua faccia mi piace poco. 'His very face displeases me.'

With respect to this ad hoc-scale, deja/gia mark that by the time the conceptualizer has scanned the scale up to and including the subject entity, a transition between nonapplicable arguments and applicable ones has been completed. In this use, weaker items on the scale are, of course, not entailed, since the scale is not a semantic one: quite the contrary, in fact, for, assuming the correctness of the scale suggested above, one will normally read (45) as implicating that il suo nome is not a felicitous argument for PIACERMI POCO.

Moreover, in comparison with the "scalar" sentence-adverbial use, the nontemporal focus-particle use is not only COMPATIBLE with predicates higher up on the scale (that is to say that il suo comportamento would be even more obviously applicable as an argument of this predicate); in this use, the adverb actually conventionally IMPLICATES the applicability of the stronger item. The generalized upper-bounding implicature that we saw in connection with the "scalar" use is thus not in force here. As such, deja/gia in this use belong to the group of additive focus particles (cf. Konig 1991; Nolke 1983).

What they suggest, therefore, is that the focus constituent is a more informative argument in the given context, because less predictable, or in other words, that the transition between nonapplicable argument entities and applicable ones has been crossed sooner than one might have expected. This interpretation provides, of course, a conceptual link to the basic phasal sense of the adverb.

3.4. Denial use: non ... gia

By the fourteenth century, Italian has yet another language-specific use of gia, this time under the scope of negation, where it expresses emphatic denial (cf. Battaglia 1970: 749):

(46) Non e gia questo che intendo! 'That's not at all what I mean!'

This use has no equivalent in French, but it may be relevant to point out that Spanish ya can be used as an emphatically AFFIRMATIVE particle (cf. Gonzalez 1998):

(47) el acordeonista que estuvo en la boda mia tocando/ ha estao// en la boda de EE tambien// si en la boda de EE si/ estuvo el si. 'The accordeonist who was playing at my wedding was at EE's wedding, too. Yes, at EE's wedding, yes. He WAS there, yes.' (Gonzalez 1998: 8)

Intuitively, one would expect such an emphatically affirmative use to have been the obvious first step towards an emphatic denial construction, given that, as pointed out above, phasal deja/gia implicitly contrast the state-of-affairs marked with one of the opposite polarity. They would thus be fairly obvious potential sources for a purely affirmative marker, subject, of course, to the bleaching-out of their aspectual meaning. The non ... gia construction could then be explained as the explicit annulment of emphatic affirmation, resulting in emphatic denial.

However, our diachronic data contain only one non-negated example of gia expressing emphatic affirmation from older Italian texts, and although non-negated instances CAN be found in modern Italian (cf. [48]) such a use appears to be much less common than in Spanish, which suggests that the derivation hypothesized above may not be the correct one after all:

(48) Essi possono altresi iscrivere questo film in qualcosa di piu ampio, che appartiene loro veramente, in una parola: nella loro opera. Ed e gia questo che fa tutta la differenza tra un film come "La signora del venerdi" di Howard Hawks, e "La donna dei sogni", di Sidney Sheldon. 'These may likewise put this film in the context of something greater, which truly belongs to them, in a word: in their oeuvre. And it is exactly that that makes all the difference between a film like His Girl Friday, by Howard Hawks, and [La donna dei sogni] by Sidney Sheldon.' (

A possible alternative motivation for the denial use can be found in the notion of a transition from a SoA ~e to a SoA e, which is inherent in the phasal sense of the adverb. In (46), where the speaker is referring to a previous utterance, and stating that the contents of that utterance did not adequately represent what s/he meant, we could thus say that gia functions metalinguistically, to indicate that the border between inadequate and adequate interpretations of the speaker's communicative intention has not yet been reached. This would be fully in line with the general trend toward increasing subjectification of lexical meanings that is documented, among others, by Traugott and Dasher (2002).

3.5. Semantic status of modal uses

Of the four uses of deja and/or gia treated in this section, three are again common to the two languages, while the fourth is specific to Italian. While the former three show a large degree of similarity, the fourth "denial" use is so different in meaning and distribution that its existence would sit uneasily with an account in terms of a single "core" meaning with purely contextual modulations. Despite the similarities between the first three uses, there are both synchronic and diachronic arguments for assuming that they are likewise separate meanings: thus, they differ significantly in terms of synchronic entailment and implicature patterns, and also in terms of compatibility with predicates that are high on the relevant scale vs. central to the relevant category. It should also be noted that the "abstract" marginality use exemplified in (42), while fully acceptable in French, is dispreferred in Italian. Diachronically, too, the evidence is in favor of meaning extensions, as opposed to purely contextual modulations.

In sum, the results of our contrastive, panchronic approach leads us to pose all four modal uses as actual extensions of meaning, motivated by one or more previously existing senses.

4. Connective uses

In this section, we consider a few uses of deja and gia in which their syntax is that of a discourse connective. That is to say that, whereas the temporal-aspectual and modal uses of the two adverbs could occur in isolated clauses, the connective uses require, to be felicitous, that the clause hosting the adverbs occur in an argumentative structure with a following clause.

4.1. Thematic deja/gia and deja que/gia che

As discourse connectives, both deja and gia are found in two different constructions: 10 one in which the adverb occurs in thematic position in the host clause, as in (49); 20 and one in which it combines with the subordinating conjunctions que/che, as in (50), to form what looks superficially like an adverbial subordinator, but which is perhaps rather an a-verbal main clause followed by a complement clause, as evidenced by the fact that it frequently co-occurs with a coordinated "canonical" main clause (cf. Guimier 1998). Additionally, Italian gia is used in a language-specific corrective structure non gia X, ma Y, which will be treated in the next section.

(49) J'ai bien aime ce film: deja, c'est original, et puis il y a de tres belles photos. 'I liked this movie: for one thing, it's original, and then there are some very beautiful shots.'

(50) un po' ... come dire ... demode? gia che e una fumatrice, poi con l'amante rissoso ... 'a bit ... how shall I put it ... outdated? not only is she a smoker, and then with the aggressive lover ...'

Deja/gia in thematic position are clearly related to the "scalar" uses of the particles, and, as far as Italian is concerned, it is not obvious to us that the two uses are in fact distinct. In French, however, thematic deja is not identical to its "scalar" counterpart. For one thing, whereas a clause containing "scalar" deja may function on its own, a clause containing thematic deja seems to demand a continuation, as shown by (51)-(52):

(51) C'est deja bien, son projet. 'It's really quite good, his project.'

(52) Deja, il est bien conqu, son projet ; et puis, je suis stir qu'il nous fera beaucoup d'argent. 'For one thing, his project's well-conceived, and moreover, I'm sure it'll earn us a lot of money.'

Secondly, "scalar" deja seems felicitous only with continuations involving predications of a nature essentially similar to the one in the host sentence, that is, predicates which form a semantic scale, cf. (53) and (54). Thematic deja, on the other hand, allows for continuations which express a predication of a different kind, but which may, but do not need to, form a pragmatic scale, cf. (55):

(53) 100.000 francs, c'est deja une somme. 500.000, ce serait une vraie fortune! '100,000 francs is already a pretty good sum of money. 500,000 would be a veritable fortune!'

(54) ?J'aime bien cet appart: il est deja super-bien situe, puis il est grand, et enfin il n'est pas cher. 'I like this appartment: its location is [deja] great, secondly, it's large, and finally, it's cheap.'

(55) J'aime bien cet appart: deja, il est super-bien situe, puis il est grand, et enfin il n'est pas cher. 'I like this appartment: for one thing, its location is great, secondly, it's large, and finally, it's cheap.'

Moreover, "scalar" deja operates on the content level of its host utterance, whereas thematic deja is more like a conjunctional adverb, and thus operates on the level of the speech act, presenting the first argument of a series.

We might conjecture that there was originally a link between the thematic use of the particle and the "scalar" one, such that the use of thematic deja would suggest the existence of an ordered series of arguments for a particular conclusion, the ordering being dependent on the perceived strength of the arguments involved with respect to a particular conclusion. In that case, we would, as with the nontemporal focus-particle use, be dealing with an ad hoc pragmatic scale. The consequence of such an ordering of potential arguments would be that deja/gia would mark ones that were perceived as relatively weaker, with one or more stronger arguments being presented in the continuation. This sort of argumentative structure is indeed what we find in the earliest examples in our data base, from the eighteenth century. However, in most of the contemporary examples we have gone through, there does not seem to be any significant difference in force between arguments marked by thematic deja and arguments presented in parallel. It appears that, in contemporary French, at least, the particle primarily marks the first argument to occur to the speaker.

Deja que/gia che likewise mark the first argument in a series, but unlike thematic deja, they invariably mark clauses whose content is viewed in negative terms in the context, and the argument introduced is systematically rhetorically weaker than those that follow. Although seemingly identical in meaning, the two connectives also show some salient differences between them. One is that, while deja que is confined to fairly informal registers, and is of relatively recent origin (thus, the earliest example in our corpus is from 1936, and characteristically from a novel by the avantgarde writer Celine), Italian gia che is both older (our examples date back to the fourteenth century) and most common in more formal, written registers.

Secondly, Italian gia che can fall under the scope of negation, as in (56), in which case, it seems to reject an argument which is potentially stronger than some other contextually salient argument used to support a given conclusion. In other words, as we would expect, the negation appears to effect a reversal of the argumentative properties described above (cf. Ducrot 1973: 239):

(56) Non gia che ti creda un bugiardo, ma desidero una spiegazione. 'It's not that I consider you a liar, but I would like an explanation.'

When we consider the "modal" use of non ... gia discussed above, this suggests that the gia we find in gia che might be related to the (rarely attested) emphatic affirmative particle. Some support for this can be found in the fact that, alongside the gia che analyzed above, which functions as a marker of weaker negatively laden arguments, modern Italian also has a more common causal conjunction, giacche (usually--but not necessarily--written in one word), and which is equivalent to English since, French puisque or indeed Spanish ya que, cf. (57). Part of the meaning of this causal connective is that the truth of the host clause is being taken for granted (cf. Ducrot 1983). However, the precise origin of the causal connective is a question whose resolution calls for further research.

(57) Giacche/Gia che lo sai, perche me lo chiedi? 'Since you know it, why do you ask me?'

4.2. Corrective SN-connective: non gia X, ma Y

As noted above, Italian girl has an additional connective use not found in French, in which it functions as part of a fully grammaticalized corrective structure non gia X, ma Y ("not X, but Y") equivalent to German nicht X, sondern Y or Spanish no X, sino Y (cf. Anscombre and Ducrot 1977; Schwenter 2002). Like its German or Spanish equivalents, this construction is used for refutation, that is, it completely rejects the truth and/or relevance of the corrected term, including any generalized quantity implicatures of the latter, such as the one from some to not all (cf. Schwenter 2002). This construction is attested in our data from at roughly the same time as the non ... gia structures discussed above, i.e., from the late four-teenth century onwards, and it fairly clearly represents a further degree of grammaticalization of the denial construction.

(58) Ti vorrei qui non gia come aiutante, ma come amico. 'I'd like to have you here, not as an assistant, but as a friend.'

(59) Non alcuni, ma tutti sono venuti. 'It wasn't some of them who came, but all of them.'

4.3. Semantic status of connective uses

In this section, we have shown that while thematic deja/gia and deja que/ gif che have a great deal in common, there are also differences of both syntax and meaning between them that are not well-accounted for without assuming that they are separate senses. At the same time, the connective uses exhibit certain similarities with the modal uses treated in Section 3 above, and can therefore plausibly be considered to be extensions of these latter uses, extensions that saliently involve syntactic constraints which do not apply to the modal uses. The special syntax, combined with the observation that the connective uses are diachronically later developments, argue for their status as fully semanticized.

5. Interactional uses

Finally, deja and gia both have what we might call interactional uses (for lack of a better term), where they occur in either the first or the second part of an adjacency pair (cf. Sacks 1992, Vol. 2: 521ff.). These uses, however, are not the same in the two languages.

5.1. Interjectional use of gift

Italian gia can be used as a polarity-neutral answer particle, as in (60), (61), and (62), and as a largely phatic interjection, as in (63). These uses go back to the fifteenth century, but do not seem to become common until the nineteenth century. As the different translations of (62) show, gia differs from si in its use as answer particle in that it cannot offer neutral information that is clearly new to the hearer. Its use in this example might thus suggest not only that some form of cheating was involved on the part of the Danes, but that this was a matter of mutual knowledge between speaker and addressee. When used as an answer to an orientation question, as in (61), gia will therefore always agree with the orientation provided by the first speaker, even when this orientation is negative. Thus, it expresses emphatic agreement rather than simply affirmation or positive polarity.

(60) A. Si e dileguato con tutte le sue promesse. 'He has disappeared, along with all his promises.'

B. Eh gia! Dovevamo immaginarlo. 'Well, of course! We might have foreseen that.'

(61) A. Non e venuto all'appuntamento? 'Did he not show up for the appointment?'

B. Eh gia, purtroppo. 'Well, of course not, unfortunately.'

(62) A. I Danesi sono arrivati ai finali? 'Did the Danes reach the finals?'

B. Si/Gia. 'Yes/Is the Pope Catholic?'

(63) A. Tiscriverr. 'I'll write to you.'

B. Dove? 'Where?'

A. Gift. Dove? 'You're right. Where?' (Bernini 1995: 222)

Diachronically, the earliest uses are of the type exemplified in (60), where gia can be analyzed as applying to the so-called "tropic" level of the utterance (cf. Hare in Lyons 1977: 749ff.), i.e., the level of speaker commitment to the implied proposition. In other words, it has undergone an increase in semantic scope. Bernini's (1995: 220-222) paraphrase, Gia lo sapevo ('I already knew that'), implies that the speaker's commitment to the implied proposition was assured even prior to its being uttered by the interlocutor. Interactional gia thus strongly suggests that the piece of information referred to is unsurprising to the speaker, and that agreement with the interlocutor is therefore unproblematic.

It is this suggestion which is lexicalized in examples such as (61)-(62). As argued by Waltereit (2001), the rise of pragmatic particles frequently involves the simulation of a type of context associated with existing uses of the same lexical item, such that the new use evokes a speech situation that is metonymically tied to the form in question. In (61)-(63), the type of speech situation evoked by gia is the one found in (60), where there is prior agreement between the interlocutors. In (61)-(63), agreement is, however, no longer a mere implicature of the speaker's pre-existing commitment to the proposition, but has become the foregrounded meaning conveyed by the particle.

5.2. Deja in interrogatives and imperatives

From the eighteenth century onwards, we find French deja used as a downtoner in questions, indicating in different ways that the question ought perhaps to be redundant. Example (64) represents an extension of phasal deja to Hare's "neustic" (cf. Lyons 1977: 749ff.), i.e., the speech act level of the utterance, and might be paraphrased as "I already have to ask what your name is." As such, it suggests that the host speech act is in some sense premature with respect to what might have been expected.

(64) Quel est votre nom, deja? 'What was your name, now?'

Finally, our corpus contains a couple of nineteenth century examples of deja with an imperative, suggesting emphasis and/or impatience (cf. English Open your eyes, already!). This use appears exceedingly rare even in texts from this period, and it seems completely nonexistent in contemporary French. The attested examples might essentially be nonce uses, possibly due to language contact, since the Spanish equivalent of deja/gia, ya, is commonly used in this way (cf. Garrido 1992). As Garrido (1992) points out, this use can plausibly be accounted for as an extension of the phasal use, as it emphasizes the speaker's desire for a change of state, as against an expectation of continuation.

(65) Tu l'as voulu, disait-il, tu l'as voulu! Tu as attache ta vie a la mienne. Vois deja! 'You wanted it, he'd say, you wanted it! You tied your life to mine. Do open your eyes!'

(Gustave Flaubert, La premiere education sentimentale, 1845, from Frantext)

(66) Callate ya! 'Shut up already!'

5.3. Semantic status of interactional uses

These last few uses of deja and gia are of relatively recent coinage, they are not common to the two languages, and in both cases, the particle has scope not over what Hare calls the phrastic level (i.e., the level of propositional content as such), but rather over the tropic or neustic level of the utterance. We therefore conclude that we are dealing with independent senses, as opposed to purely contextual modulations.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, the analyses presented in this article strongly suggest that the meaning and uses of deja and gia can in neither case be accounted for in terms of a single overarching Gesamtbedeutung, which then interacts with context to yield the more specific interpretations we have seen. In other words, a monosemy analysis does not appear tenable. Thus, for instance, Franckel (1989: 257) proposes that deja marks the confrontation of two autonomous and independent construals of a given process, one relative to a subjective reference point, and the other relative to a temporal reference point, and evaluates the former as "less centered" than the latter, such that the process as subjectively construed is surpassed by the factual process. However, such a description, saliently, does not explain why the "marginality" use cannot very well be used with central exemplars of the category in question (cf. [43]), nor why there are specific syntactic and intonational constraints on "scalar" deja (cf. [38]-[40]), nor is it immediately apparent that it accounts for the existence of the interrogative use in (64), or for the two connective uses in (49) and (50).

While we cannot, on principle, exclude the possibility that some highly abstract notion could be found that would be relevant to all uses of these adverbs, chances are that such a notion would ultimately turn out to be too vague, and would overgenerate possible uses of the two adverbs. (13) Moreover, the postulation of any such abstract element of meaning would fail to explain why deja and gia can have both a common etymology and obvious similarities of use in modern Romance, and nevertheless not possess the exact same range of uses. Essentially, it is unclear to us why language users should either want or need to represent such a highly generalized meaning as the cognitive tie between the different senses of deja and gia.


Instead, we would suggest that the various senses reviewed in this article can be represented as a family resemblance network, or semantic map, as in Figure 1, where the phasal sense is the basic one, directly or indirectly motivating a number of extensions in both languages. (14) The precise synchronic structure of the synchronic network can probably only be determined through psycholinguistic or developmental research (although there is a strong intuition that the phasal sense is basic from a panchronic viewpoint). However, reasonable hypotheses can be made about the structure of the diachronic extensions, which is what we have tried to do in various places throughout the exposition.

As argued in Sections 2-5 of this article, the presumed direct extensions resemble the phasal use in different, but salient ways, while at the same time differing from it to a degree which warrants their being represented as separate nodes of meaning. The senses that we consider to be plausible direct extensions of phasal deja are the other three temporal-aspectual uses, the "scalar" use, the interactional uses, and possibly the modal denial use. As separate nodes of meaning, they subsequently became available for further meaning extensions of their own, namely the marginality use, the nontemporal focus particle use, the connective uses, and, on an alternative interpretation, the denial use. Diachronically, these latter senses would thus be only indirectly motivated by the basic phasal sense; hence, the latter cannot be considered to be the prototypical meaning in the strict sense (cf. Kleiber 1990).

We believe that the detailed contrastive methodology employed here is a potentially fruitful and still largely untapped resource in lexical semantics (although prominent existing examples of it can be found in, for instance, Rossari 1994, 1996; Fraser and Malamud-Makowski 1996; Fleischman 1998; Visconti 2003; and Aijmer et al. 2006). The differences of meaning and use found between otherwise closely related items in two or more languages not only help to refine the se mantle descriptions of each individual item, but, by the same token, they seem to us to provide evidence against highly abstract semantic accounts which rely too heavily on contextual modulation in the interpretation of specific tokens (cf. also Waltereit 2003). The approach advocated here goes a step further by also taking into account the diachronic evolution of the items studied. As far as we are aware, this combination represents an original methodological proposal in lexical semantics.

Finally, we would like to point out that the similarities of use found not only between our "twin" particles, but also between these two and their equivalents in several others languages (cf. Valikangas 1982; van Baar 1997; van der Auwera 1998), are indicative of the existence of crosslinguistic (and possibly universal) pragmatic functions (cf. Fleischman 1998), an area which is clearly in need of further elucidation.

University of Manchester

University of Copenhagen

Received 30 November 2004

Revised version received 14 April 2005


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Data sources

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(1.) We would like to thank Carla Bazzanella, Henning Nolke, Jacqueline Visconti, Richard Waltereit, and three anonymous referees for very insightful comments on earlier versions of this article. Needless to say, any remaining shortcomings are entirely our own responsibility. Correspondence address: Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen, School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, United Kingdom. E-mail: Maj-Britt.MosegaardHansen@

(2.) The diachronic analysis is based on the following corpora: For French, we have made use, on the one hand, of the Base de francais mediaval, a searchable internet corpus consisting of 48 texts in verse and 29 prose texts written between 800 and 1600, and on the other hand, of the Frantext data base, which contains approx. 3,500 works written between 1500 and the present day. 80% of these texts are of a literary nature, while 20% are of a technical, scientific nature. For Italian, we have used the LIZ corpus on CD-ROM (Stoppelli and Picchi 2001), a collection of 1000 texts by 245 different authors ranging from the thirteenth century to the early twentieth century. These texts are mainly of a literary nature, but historical texts, correspondence, personal diaries, and autobiographies are also represented. We have also consulted the Opera del Vocabolario Italiano text base, which contains approx. 20 million words from texts up to 1375. (See the Sources section for the full references.)

(3.) It has been suggested by an anonymous referee that language-particular tests would work as well, making the contrastive analysis redundant. However, as shown by Geeraerts (1993) and Tuggy (1993), the standard tests for ambiguity/polysemy vs vagueness/monosemy (most prominently, Lakoff's [1970] identity test, and Quine's [1960: 129] differential truth-value test) are indecisive even at the best of times, in as much as they frequently give conflicting results, and are subject to contextual manipulation. In the case of our adverbs, the tests are rendered yet more problematical by the fact that the different uses of deja and gia strongly tend to occur with significantly different types of predicates, making it difficult to construct contexts where test sentences would even potentially meaningful. While this type of complementary distribution is seen by some scholars as an argument for monosemy, it is argued by just as many others to be an argument for polysemy ...

(4.) Examples whose source is not indicated have been constructed by the authors. Note that, in order not to encumber the presentation with too many semantically and structurally identical examples, we have chosen to mix French and Italian examples in roughly equal proportions. Except where we explicitly state otherwise, it can be assumed that judgments on the acceptability of specific uses of either deja or gia are similar for both languages.

(5.) In Klein's (1992: 535ff.) model, topic time is conceived of as an alternative to the more common, but vaguer, Reichenbachian term "reference point" (cf. Reichenbach 1947: 287ff.). TT is not a point but an interval, and, although Klein does not say so explicitly, we assume, in line with current thinking in, for instance, Discourse Representation Theory, that it is, moreover, a dynamic entity, which, in narrative contexts, may be continuously reset, thus accounting for any understood temporal progression of sequences of events recounted in the same tense (cf. Kamp and Reyle 1993: 523ff.). In Klein's model, tense expresses the relation between TT and the time of utterance, while aspect expresses the relation between TT and the time of the SoA e denoted by the clause (TSit in Klein's terms). The phasal use of adverbs like deja and gia is thus most appropriately classified as aspectual, rather than temporal.

(6.) As pointed out by Michaelis (1992: 324n), the predicate must, however, be such as to at least allow for the possibility of further accretion of values along the time scale, as seen by the oddness of (i), as opposed to (ii):

(i) ?*A 14 heures, Pierre courait deja depuis midi. 'At 2 o'clock, Peter had already been running since noon.'

(ii) A 14 heures, Pierre courait deja depuis une heure et demie. 'At 2 o'clock, Peter had already been running for an hour and a half.'

The predicate COURIR DEPUIS MIDI ('to have been running since noon') does not represent an expandable situation, that is to say that no matter how long Pierre continues to run, COURIR DEPUIS MIDI will continue to be an appropriate description of his activity.

COURIR DEPUIS X TEMPS ('to have been running for x amount of time'), on the other hand, IS inherently expandable: thus, une heure et demie may turn into deux heures ('two hours') and so on, depending on how long the running activity goes on.

(7.) It might be objected that it is not meaningful to talk about a point of inception in connection with truly eternal facts such as "2 + 2 = 4". However, without wanting to appear flip, we would argue that eternity is a difficult concept for most people to grasp fully, and that language is primarily geared towards expressing the perceptions of ordinary human beings, as opposed to philosophers or scientists.

(8.) This constraint is in a sense the iterative equivalent of the requirement that further accretion of values along the temporal scale be possible for the phasal uses of the adverbs to be felicitous.

(9.) The former contrast was noted for English at least as early as Traugott and Waterhouse (1969), and for French by Muller (1975). The latter was noted for German by Konig (1977), but, as far as we are aware, not much has been made of it in the case of either French or Italian.

(10.) It almost goes without saying, but our translations of these and other examples of nontemporal/aspectual uses of deja/gia are meant only as approximations, and they do not necessarily generalize to all possible contexts.

(11.) This, however, does not mean (pace Martin 1980: 170; Vet 1980: 155n) that deja/gia invariably mark a relatively lower point on the relevant scale, as they may, in fact, be found with inherently superlative predicates such as excellent or bellissimo:

(i) Sono stato convocato e per me e gia una cosa bellissima. 'I have been called for an interview, and to me, that's a really wonderful thing in itself.' (

(12.) That there is, moreover, polysemy between the "modal" uses and the basic phasal use is indicated by the awkwardness of saying ??Ventimiglia e gia in Italia, e anche Giovanni ('Ventimiglia is already in Italy, and so is Giovanni').

(13.) This observation has been made in several places in the existing literature, not only with respect to particles, but also to other types of polyfunctional linguistic items, inter alia by Konig (1991: 175). The esthetic appeal, and hence, the allure to many researchers, of monosemy being very strong, the point does, however, bear repeating.

(14.) Arrows indicate hypothesized directions of diachronic extension. Uses that are shared by both languages are enclosed in unbroken boxes. Uses found only in Italian are enclosed in broken-line boxes. Uses found only in French are enclosed in dotted-line boxes. A dotted background indicates that the use in question is marginal or obsolete in at least one of the two languages.
Table 1. Summary of uses of deja and gia

a. Temporal-aspectual uses

Use French Italian English already

Phasal (2.1) + + +
Iterative (2.2) + + -
Indefinite past (2.3) - + -
(Quasi) adjectival (2.4) - + -
Focus particle (2.5) + + +

b. "Modal" uses

Use French Italian English already

"Scalar" (3.1) + + -
"Marginality" (3.2) + (+) (+)
Focus particle (3.3) + + -
Denial (3.4) - + -

c. Connective uses

Use French Italian English already

Thematic (4.1) + (+) -
"Conjunctional" (4.1) + + -
Corrective (4.2) - + -

d. Interactional uses

Use French Italian English already

Interjectional (5.1) - + -
Interrogative (5.2) + - -
Imperative (5.2) (+) - +
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Author:Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard; Strudsholm, Erling
Publication:Linguistics: an interdisciplinary journal of the language sciences
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Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:May 1, 2008
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