Journal of Social Sciences

CAUSAL CONSTRUCTIONS WITH AN ADJECTIVE IN GERMAN AND FRENCH: TYPOLOGICAL AND
PEDAGOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Sabine De Knop

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2015.289.303

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 11, Issue 3

Pages 289-303

Abstract

The study explores the variety of causal constructions with an adjective in French and German, as they are realized in French Pierre est rouge de colère (‘Peter is red with anger’), German Maria ist gelb vor Eifersucht (‘Maria is yellow with jealousy’), French Il est fou d’amour (lit. ‘He is crazy of love’), or French Anne est morte de faim (lit. ‘Anne is dead of hunger’). First, the different elements of the construction are described in detail in the framework of Goldberg’s Construction Grammar model (1995 and 2006) and of different phraseological studies (Burger, 2007; Dobrovol’skij, 2011; Donalies, 2009; Fleischer, 1997; Gries, 2008). One and the same syntactic structure can convey different meanings (also a non-causal meaning) with different degrees of idiomaticity. In a contrastive approach, the study further highlights the typological differences in the causal construction between the Germanic language German and the Romance language French. These differences can lead to difficulties for French-speaking learners of German. The study proposes some teaching strategies to facilitate the learning of such causal constructions with an adjective. We advocate a teaching methodology which privileges holistic sequences or so-called ‘chunks’ (Handwerker, 2008) and which further focuses on the typological differences in the lexicalization patterns (e.g. different prepositions in German, different color terms,…), but also on conceptual metaphor and metonymy (Barcelona, 2001; Lakoff and Johnson, 1980; Niemeier, 1998). This helps foreign learners to ‘rethink for speaking’ (Ellis and Cadierno, 2009: 123) in the foreign language.

Copyright

© 2015 Sabine De Knop. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.