Source: pp 184-185, French prepositions à and de in infinitival complements, A pragma-semantic analysis (2008) by Lidia Fraczak, as part of Adpositions: Pragmatic, Semantic and Syntactic Perspectives (2008) edited by D Kurzon, S Adler
We have pointed out the incompatibility of the preposition à with “negative” expressions, like
[1.] oublier (“to forget”), manquer (“to fail”), éviter (“to avoid”), refuser (“to refuse”), which share the meaning of “not doing” or “not wanting to do”.
We explain the use of the preposition de with these verbs by the existence of a different operation than that involved in “ambivalent vision”: the presupposed, positive version of a given fact is “dismissed” in favour of the negative one, thus resulting in “monovalent vision”. We observe, however, that the verb renoncer (“to give up”), unlike other “negative” verbs, combines with the preposition à and not with de.
[2.] In this case, it may be considered that both versions (the positive and the negative one) remain “activated”, in order to express the transfer from one version to the other implying “cost” or “regret”, and thus “ambivalent vision” is in effect. With this verb, an argumentative/polemic value may be brought to light by the context, as may be illustrated by the following examples, taken from the Internet:
(27) Ce numéro de Poésie 1 / Vagabondages donnera la parole à une trentaine de poètes femmes (nous renonçons à utiliser le mot “poétesse” qui commence bien mais se termine mal).
‘This issue of Poésie 1 / Vagabondages will feature about thirty woman poets (we refrain from using the word “poetess”, which starts well but ends badly).’
(28) Avec l’irruption de la télé-réalité, nous renonçons à distinguer le vrai du faux, la vie publique et la vie privée.
‘With the invasion of reality TV, we are giving up distinguishing between the true and the fake, between public life and private life.’
In example (27), it is a deliberate decision that is described, its reason being justified in the second part of the sentence. The announced choice (not to use the word poétesse) is implicitly opposed to the previous, contrary choice, with the idea of regret relating to the passage from one to the other. In example (28), the sentence containing the verb renoncer constitutes a comment which indicates that the emergence of reality TV leads to the transfer, judged negatively, from some previous situation to a situation of confusion.
I am not convinced by 2 (the argument) that tries to distinguish renoncer from the verbs in 1.
How does 2 not apply to the verbs in 1?
PS: I recognise the longitude of this post; please advise what I can omit to shorten it.