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Le nouveau président de la République l'a pourtant officiellement démentie, puis combattue par de multiples moyens, mais rien n'y fait : la rumeur sur son homosexualité continue de circuler. Ce n'est pourtant pas faute de s'afficher publiquement avec sa femme Brigitte.

This has been bugging me for a long time, but I wonder if the speaker has leeway in deciding who is the subject of the action described with the infinitive verb right after "faute de" – in this case "s'afficher" – leaving the interpretation open to the interlocuter according to context.

The context leads you to assume that "le nouveau président" is the subject of "s'afficher", but considering that the subjects in the preceding two clauses are "rien" and "la rumeur" respectively, nothing (but context) clarifies who is supposed to be the subject of the action "s'afficher".

In English, you could easily work around this ambiguity by placing a pronoun right after a preposition: "of {his/him/her/their/them} doing", but this does not work in French.

I'm afraid I myself am guilty of this usage. I just said in conversation:

Au fil des années, j'en suis venu à me dire que ce que je faisais là ne serait jamais reconnu à sa juste valeur. Ce n’est pourtant pas faute de nous décarcasser pour faire en sorte que ...

I wonder if the sudden shift in subject from "je" to "on/nous" in the part "faute de (on/nous) nous décarcasser" is allowed? After all, I could just as well have phrased it as: "Ce n’est pourtant pas faute de (je) me décarcasser ...", or for the sake of argument, "Ce n’est pourtant pas faute de (ils) se décarcasser ..." .

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I think that "Ce n'est pourtant pas faute de + verbe" is a french idiom and it is up to the reader to work out what it is about however there will have a linking word related to the previous sentence for instance s' afficher

for

Ce n'est pourtant pas faute de s'afficher publiquement avec sa femme Brigitte.

The clues are "sa femme Brigitte" and "président de la République" in the previous sentence.

For:

Ce n’est pourtant pas faute de nous décarcasser

You need to be consitent with the what you want to recall from the previous sentence and in this case it would be "me décarcasser"

  • You've got a point, though I have also come across more than my fair share of instances where such "clues" are absent and a new subject pops up out of the blue right after "faute de". For example, the infinitive isn't always a pronominal verb like "s'afficher / se décarcasser" that clues you in on the intended subject. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Dec 1 '17 at 16:37
  • You are right and I can think of an example but there is still a clue in the previous sentence. "Je ne trouve pas de travail. Ce n'est pas faut de répondre aux offres d'emplois". "Travail" et "offre d'emplois" are related words in this context. There is a grammatical term for that but it goes back to my collège years and I have forgotten. – Alex Perrin Dec 1 '17 at 17:42

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