A Formal Analysis of the French Temporal Connective <i>alors</i>


  • Myriam Bras University of Toulouse
  • Anne Le Draoulec University of Toulouse
  • Nicolas Asher University of Toulouse




This paper presents an analysis of the French adverbial alors (then, at that time, so). Among the linguistic markers that establish a temporal relation between the eventualities introduced by two clauses, we define as \textit{temporal connectives} those that introduce at the same time some sort of discourse relation. We argue that alors can be such a connective. Within the framework of Segmented Discourse Representation Theory, our investigation concerning the discourse information conveyed by sentence initial alors reveals at least three sorts of relations close to the Result relation of SDRT. Alors alone conveys a weak causal relation, which we formalize using Lewis’ counterfactual, and encode in the discourse relation Weak-Result. We distinguish it from Strong-Result, which is inferred when lexical or other contextual information suggests a causal, discursive link. We also show that alors can, when Weak-Result is blocked, suggest an inferential relation, which we express using the weak conditional already present in SDRT.