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Detges, Ulrich; Weidhaas, Thomas (2016): Coherence and interaction. The French causal connectors comme and car. In: Language Sciences, Vol. 58: pp. 111-125
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The two French causal conjunctions car and comme can both be employed to convey background information in narratives. Despite this overlap in function, they have properties that are diametrically opposed. While comme is a subordinating and usually pre-posed conjunction, car is a coordinating conjunction which always occurs in post position. As observed by many authors, post-position is normal for causal clauses. This tendency is usually explained by the argumentative role of causal clauses in interactive oral exchanges. By contrast, pre-position (as in the case of comme) is an exceptional feature for causals and is usually ascribed to the requirements of discourse organization. Thus, it would seem that interaction and discourse organization are two mutually exclusive motivations. However, as we will show for both comme and car, they are in fact two sides of the same coin. Based on Ford's (1993) view of causal adverbials as reactive responses to interactional trouble, we describe comme as a proactive device for fast problem-solving. Conversely car, which is always post-posed, is not only used for its capacity to respond to interactional trouble, but also for reasons of discourse organization. Our comparison of comme and car illustrates the long-standing notion that coherence building crucially involves negotiation between hearer and speaker about the next move