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Dissertation project of Isabel Fuhrmann

The combinatorics of French connectors within argumentative structures

We encounter argumentation and argumentative structures on a daily basis. Every form of communication is characterised by an inherent argumentative dimension since speakers want to be understood by listeners and at the same time have the goal of convincing the hearer.

A valid argumentation usually consists of several arguments, which in turn consist, generally speaking, of one or two premises and a conclusion (cf. Hinton 2021). Interestingly, the premises or the conclusion can be implicit. These enthymematic structures that have sparked the keen interest of current research (cf. Breitholtz 2021) can be observed very frequently in argumentative discourse. Enthymemes require additional world knowledge as items of information, though appealed to, are left implicit due to their status of presupposed knowledge.

In order to mark the argumentative structure and thus make it more accessible to the hearer, languages provide different means. A particularly important linguistic device are connectors, for instance in French the contra-argumentative connector mais, the causal car or the consecutive donc. Connectors can have different functions in discourse such as indicating coherence relations, argumentative orientations and making the argumentative structure more easily accessible to the hearer (cf. Fuentes Rodríguez/Alcaide Lara 2007).

In my dissertation, I want to analyse French connectors while looking at their function in argumentative discourse. Of particular interest are connectors conveying the same coherence relations. Furthermore, my research aims at gaining more insight in the semantics and pragmatics of connectors and the role they play in argumentative persuasiveness. As a data basis, political speeches from French politicians from the European Parliament are used. We thus find speeches of politicians from Nicolas Sarkozy, Daniel Cohn-Bendit or Marine Le Pen.

I want to focus especially on the co-occurrences of connectors within argumentative structures. The combinatorics and the order of connectors seem to be related as different argumentative structures are conveyed by them. In addition to this, I want to look at competing connectors that express the same general meaning but behave slightly differently.

Overall, my research aims at analysing connectors and particularly having a closer look at the combinatorics of these connecting elements with regard to argumentation.


Short biography

Isabel Fuhrmann studied German and French (Teacher Education Programme) at the University of Cologne where she received her master’s degree in 2022. During her studies, she spent one semester at the “Université Bordeaux Montaigne” in France. In her master thesis, supervised by Prof. Dr. Marco García García, she investigated the auxiliary selection in Quebec French. In October 2022, she joined the research project C02 “Tense and aspect” of the CRC 1252 “Prominence in Language” as a Doctoral Student. Her supervisor is Prof. Dr. Martin Becker.


E-Mail-Adresse: isabelfuhrmannSpamProtectionuni-koeln.de



French connectors within argumentative structures – a first approach. Kolloquium Romanistische Linguistik (KoRoLi), Universität zu Köln. 20.06.2023.

Connectors within argumentative structures - a first approach on French consecutive connectors alors and donc. Klausurtagung SFB 1252 „Prominence in Language“, 22.-23.06.2023, Kloster Steinfeld. 22.06.2023.

Connectors and Argumentation – The Case of French Consecutive Connectors donc and alors. A.r.t.e.s. Kolloquium, Köln. 05.10.2023.

Connectors in argumentation. The Interaction of French Consecutive Connectors with Causal ones. Workshop „Argumentation and maneuvering agreement in discourse“, 7.-8.12.2023, Universität zu Köln. 07.12.2023.



Event Organization

Workshop „Argumentation and maneuvering agreement in discourse“, 07.-08.12.2023, Universität zu Köln (with Dr. Jakob Egetenmeyer)