The future in the past in Louisiana French
Le futur dans le passé en français louisianais
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The past conditional is used in Louisiana French (LF) in two distinct ways that are strikingly different from Standard French (SF) norms, both of which concern the temporal conditional (i.e. the conditional as a tense, as opposed to the modal conditional). First, for many speakers the past conditional has come to be the most frequent and usual way to express the future in the past, regardless of whether the subordinate verb is logically future anterior or simple future in the past. Thus the present conditional is freed up to be used only or principally as a modal conditional. Secondly, the past conditional is not uncommonly used instead of the imparfait. Possible explanations for these two patterns are explored. These innovations do not appear to be survivals of older patterns since they are attested only in two other places which are sociolinguistically similar to Louisiana, namely Missouri French, and marginally in Maritime Acadian. Rather, these developments are in keeping with a larger tendency in LF to prefer analytic over synthetic forms. Additionally, these developments can be understood as partial convergence with English since the auxiliary (almost always /ore/) comes to function like a positional equivalent of English WOULD.
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