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While both German and Danish have different forms of adjectives in definite and indefinite noun phrases, noun phrases with possessive personal determiners pattern with the indefinite noun phrases in German,

Ein guter Mann - a good man
Mein guter Mann - my good man
Der gute Mann - the good man

while they pattern with definite noun phrases in Danish (and presumably Norwegian and Swedish):

En god mand - a good man
Min gode mand - my good man
Den gode mand - the good man

This seems like a curious fact, since AFAIK the words are pairwise cognates. Is there a logical explanation?

  • It's dainichi's prerogative to simply pair possessive personal determiners with in/definite NPs. If, though, dainichi had paired negative articles with in/definitive NPs, then full parallelism would obtain: en/ingen god mand vs ein/kein guter Mann. So what makes dainichi's choice relevant? – Thomas Gross Jul 11 '14 at 16:08
  • @dainichi I don't know if this can help. But in German, possessives are called "ein-words", as they inflect (and sound) like indefinite articles. So maybe the reason of the discrepancy for possessive, despite their determinative quality, is simply analogy of sound with the indefinite articles. – geodude Jan 7 '15 at 15:20
  • @ThomasGross OP's question is legit. He is asking why in Scandinavian languages adjectives after possessives decline strongly, and in German weakly. Your point that with negative quantifiers the languages do the same makes OP's point even more interesting. – geodude Jan 7 '15 at 15:22
  • @geodude, yes, what you say kind of coincides with my own theory as well. The weak/strong adjective choice in German seems to have some kind of dependency on form (there's a pseudo-requirement that either the determiner or the adjective should carry a marker of case), whereas in Danish, it might have come to solely be based on semantics, i.e. definiteness. Just curious if anything is known about the history of this split. – dainichi Jan 13 '15 at 2:04

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