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I would agree with Roger. In my parsing, with "l'agent de police" in
front and "le bandit" behind, there is no ambiguity there: the former
noun corresponds to the former pronoun (in this case subject) while
the latter, the latter (in this case object). Hence "il l'a vu"
clearly means "l'agent de police a vu le bandit".

I'm curious: what on earth is "y a bon"?

On Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 3:32 AM, ROGER MILLS <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Tim Smith wrote:
>
>
> >
> > >
> > >
> > Actually, I was hoping to avoid giving examples, because my French isn't
> very good, but since you ask, I'll do so, apologizing in advance for any
> errors.
> >
> > If I understand correctly what Christophe said (and remember that we're
> talking about colloquial, spoken French, not the kind of French that one
> learns in school or in a "Teach Yourself" book), the word order is
> determined solely by pragmatics (topic-comment), not by grammatical roles.
> Thus, "L'agent de police, le bandit, il l'a vu" could mean either "the
> policeman saw the gangster" or "the gangster saw the policeman".
> >
> >
>  Word order might be relevant in your example.
>
>  I think the problem might arise if there is only one noun mentioned:
>  "l'agent de police, il l'a vu" could perhaps mean either : The policeman
> saw him OR he saw the policeman.
>
>  It may be that only one role/constituent (subj or obj?) can be
> fronted/topicalized ?? Moi, sais pas. (How's that for colloq. French???)
>
>  I recall seeing a bill-board in Paris (advertising a soup IIRC) with a
> grinning African and the caption "y a bon"  Everyone said that was atrocious
> French. Rather like "mm mm good"(TM)
>