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Puzzles in French syntax and semantics


Admission requirements

Good knowledge of French and introduction to linguistics (syntax, semantics, morphology)


In this course, we will examine puzzles of French syntax and semantics from a formal linguistic perspective.Why does Personne n’a rien dit mean ‘Nobody said anything’, rather than ‘Nobody said nothing’? Why can we say Le vent menace de détruire la récolte, but not Le vent m’a menacé? During the course, several properties of French will be examined in detail and contrasted with properties of other languages. Topics that can be addressed include negation, infinitival complementation, modality, evidentiality, gradability, count/mass or inalienable possession. The specific program will be chosen in accordance with the interests expressed by the students.

Course objectives

  • The students gain insight in the structure of the French language

  • The students are able to understand and critically evaluate the relevant scientific literature

  • The students are able to develop sound linguistic argumentation

  • The students are able to formulate and address their own research questions


The timetable is available on the MA English website

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

  • Research

Course Load

10 ec = 280h

  • Lectures: 2h/ week = 26h

  • Reading: 100h

  • Preparation of presentations and course assignments: 80h

  • Term paper: 74h

Assessment method

Presentations of reading materials: 20%
Presentation of term paper project: 10%
Participation and comments in class: 10%
Term paper: 60%

The final grade consists of weighted average of the above components

Resit: students who fail the course may resit the exam and/or course paper.



Reading list

Will be communicated later as a function of topics chosen


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch

Students other than MA Linguistics need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration (Contractonderwijs](


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.