Questions tagged [definiteness]

Definite noun phrases refer to entities that are specific and identifiable in a given context.

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6
votes
1answer
335 views

Understanding the purpose of determiners/articles/demonstratives in language

This was an interesting read: Articles have developed independently in many different language families across the globe. Generally, articles develop over time usually by specialization of certain ...
7
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1answer
615 views

What diagnostics distinguish demonstratives from definite articles?

Historically, definite articles are often related to demonstratives. How might one characterize whether a word in a language is a definite article or a demonstrative?
8
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6answers
2k views

Why is the definite article in Balkan languages always called a suffix when it really seems to be part of the inflection?

The Scandinavian languages have a suffix definite article which is pretty straightforwardly tacked on to to the ends of nouns: -en, -et. But in languages of the Balkan Sprachbund, Romanian, Bulgarian,...
17
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8answers
7k views

How is definiteness expressed in languages with no definite article, clitic or affix?

According to WALS Feature 37A: Definite Articles, 198 languages have no definite or indefinite article, and 45 have no definite article but have indefinite articles. These number excludes languages ...
1
vote
1answer
122 views

Why is it thought that definite articles develop from deictic markers, and not the other way around?

I read here that "it is cross-linguistically common for definite articles to develop from deictic markers"; "deictic" referring to words such as "I" or "here" whose meaning is dependent on context. ...
1
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3answers
477 views

What about the hypothesis that the Hebrew and Arabic definite articles both evolved from a proto-Semitic word for "god"?

Given the great linguistic similarities between Hebrew and Arabic, it is noteworthy that their definite articles are completely different. Wikipedia's Arabic definite article talks about the theory ...
-2
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2answers
181 views

Why languages have the concept of "the"

Wondering why you write a sentence like this, with the word the: The person went to the store. La persona fue a la tienda. I don't understand why that extra word needs to be there. It could just ...