Les forces et les faiblesses de l'indéfini n'importe qui

Translated title of the contribution: Strengths and weaknesses of the indefinite anyone

Pierre Larrivée

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper proposes a semantic analysis of the French free-choice indefinite 'n’importe qui'. The semantics of the indefinite is organised as a ternary structure. The (1) abstract meaning underlies all uses of the item and acts as a principle of creative interpretation generation and comprehension. This principle is actualised via (2) discrete contextual features through to (3) contextual interpretations. Thus, the “existential” reading of 'n’importe qui' is derived by a veridical reading of the arbitrary selection of a qualitatively-marked occurrence from the set of human animates. The derivation of contextual readings from the enrichment by contextual cues of an underspecified meaning has a claim to an explanatory model of the semantics of grammatical polysemous items, and is certainly relevant to model-theoretic approaches in as much as formal semantic notions are intricately linked to the contextual interpretation of items. It is not 'n’importe qui' itself, but its contextual interpretations which may be weak or strong, and an homonymous treatment is not possible given the continuity of the quality and free-choice dimensions from one observed reading of n’importe qui to the next.
Translated title of the contributionStrengths and weaknesses of the indefinite anyone
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)169-180
Number of pages12
JournalTravaux de Linguistique
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • English
  • indefinite
  • semantics
  • French
  • undefined
  • semantic


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