13 votes

Borrowing words along with the articles or other grammatical parts (like Spanish from Arabic)

This is a linguistic process called rebracketing, and more specifically juncture loss. Rebracketing is when word or morpheme boundaries are re-analyzed, especially when a word is borrowed from one ...
  • 55.6k
13 votes

Are there other languages, besides English, where the indefinite (or definite) article varies based on sound?

In Italian, both the indefinite and the definite article change in spelling and pronunciation depending on the following sound, in the masculine gender. Before vowels, the masculine indefinite ...
  • 1,757
11 votes
Accepted

"Den" or "det" in Swedish

Many languages have such an ambiguity built in. It's very common that you can't tell the morphosyntactic properties of a word or even its phonological interactions just from its form, even given ...
  • 2,209
10 votes

Are there other languages, besides English, where the indefinite (or definite) article varies based on sound?

A famous example is the Arabic language where the the definite article al assimilates to one half of the potential following consonants called Sun letters in Arabic grammar. So it is an-Nil "the Nile" ...
9 votes

If the definiteness of a noun is dependent on the article that introduces it, can the gender of that noun also depend on that article?

First, English has no gender in articles, it cannot be compared. German has gendered articles, but gender in German is considered an intrinsic property of the noun, and the noun governs the gender of ...
8 votes

Are there natural languages with the following properties (seen in Esperanto)?

The language possesses nouns, adjectives, and a definite article Nouns and adjectives are both inflected for number and case and show agreement The definite article is not inflected, but is ...
  • 22.8k
8 votes
Accepted

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

For English in particular, we have older stages of the language attested: Shakespeare, Chaucer, whoever wrote Beowulf. And we can see that in Beowulf "the" had the force of a demonstrative, but ...
  • 55.6k
8 votes

Are there other languages, besides English, where the indefinite (or definite) article varies based on sound?

Catalan masculine singular definite articles. /l/ before a vowel sound. /el/ before anything else. What triggers this allomorphy is clearly the sound, not the letter, as we see l'interval /linteɾval/...
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8 votes

Are there other languages, besides English, where the indefinite (or definite) article varies based on sound?

Quite similarly to Italian (see @LjL very complete answer) and a few other Romance languages, French does this for indefinite and definite articles, but not really the same way English does, in the ...
7 votes
Accepted

Are there natural languages with the following properties (seen in Esperanto)?

Generalising from fdb's answer about Arabic and postmortes' answer about Maltese: there are several languages in the Semitic family that have these three properties. Inflected nouns and adjectives are ...
  • 3,153
7 votes
Accepted

Languages where articles occur to the right of nouns

One problem is determining that the item is an article, not a demonstrative (assuming that we use semantic tests and not conventional translations into English to decide that matter). There might be ...
  • 71.6k
7 votes

Languages where articles occur to the right of nouns

In Persian the indefinite article /i/ can be attached to a noun, or to a noun+adjective phrase. For example: pesar-i “a boy” pesar-e bozorg-i “a big boy”. Though of course in written Persian this ...
  • 22.8k
7 votes

Evolution of Definite Articles in Indo-European Languages

You're forgetting Slavic languages which generally don't have definite or indefinite articles (with some borderline exceptions) and Lithuanian. You can see the spread of definiteness marking in the ...
7 votes
Accepted

What does Eastern Aramaic have to say about "(definite) articles are acquired, not lost"?

Yes, Aramaic through the ages has had a more-or-less complete cycle attested, thanks to its long documented history. Yaudic Aramaic as attested on the inscriptions at Zencirli appears not to have any ...
  • 5,963
6 votes

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

The lines are blurry, but there are some good reasons to see these as distinct suffixes and not inflections: etymology Some of the suffixes evolved from previously separate words like determiners ...
6 votes

Languages where articles occur to the right of nouns

The answer to your question definitely seems to be "yes". However, finding clear-cut examples has been difficult for me (though I would imagine that there are a number of them). It is of course ...
  • 16.9k
6 votes
Accepted

Why languages have the concept of "the"

As A. M. Bittlingmayer pointed out, this concept is far from universal: languages like Russian, Turkish, Latin, and Swahili have no articles at all. Even in languages that have definite articles (...
  • 55.6k
6 votes
Accepted

On an apparent " masstermization" phenomenon in contemporary informal French: " il y a de la jolie nana par ici"

I've seen reference to this sort of construction being called "massification", and also "transformateur qualitatif". Massification (en): (grammar) Conversion of a count noun to a mass noun. ...
  • 6,790
6 votes
Accepted

On the etymology of Balearic Catalan personal articles "en/na"

The 1999 Routledge grammar Catalan: A Comprehensive Grammar describes four variations in in Catalan with respect to the personal article: i) En, Na, N' ii) en, na, n' iii) en, la, l' ...
  • 5,963
5 votes

"Den" or "det" in Swedish

I have a problem that the language seems to have no grammar in some cases. For instance there is both "en lag" and "ett lag" meaning completely different things but the word "lag" is the same sound ...
  • 4,368
5 votes

Are there natural languages with the following properties (seen in Esperanto)?

Welsh is another such language, to some extent at least. Nouns and adjectives do not inflect for case; most nouns and a subset of adjectives inflect for number; the majority of adjectives do not ...
5 votes

Understanding the purpose of determiners/articles/demonstratives in language

Well, I explained the why it's useful in your other question so if you're asking about the process as curiousdannii said, that is you are asking about the grammaticalisation cycle, I could explain a ...
  • 4,368
5 votes

Use of the definite article in European vs. Brazilian Portuguese

The rule is different. It only applies when the possessive pronoun is substantive: Este é meu livro, o seu é o outro. (This is my book, yours is the other one.) In most other contexts, the use of ...
5 votes

Are there other languages, besides English, where the indefinite (or definite) article varies based on sound?

Most of the famous examples in Europe and the Mediterranean have been mentioned, but we should add the languages where the definite article is simply a suffix, for example the core languages of the ...
5 votes

If the definiteness of a noun is dependent on the article that introduces it, can the gender of that noun also depend on that article?

Across languages, gender is partially a function of a lexical property of a noun, but also semantic properties of the NP. Therefore the diminutive singular of a noun could be one gender and the ...
  • 71.6k
4 votes

Articles in Indo-European Languages

First and foremost, Altaic is a controversial grouping of languages at best. So take claims about them with a grain of salt, though it may be useful to view them as a language area. But it still doesn'...
  • 1,176
4 votes

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

In Bulgaria, the definite article did start as a separate word, which loosely translates to "this one". or "he", "she" and "it" for the 3 genders, so Bulgarian ended with different suffixes for each ...
4 votes

Are there natural languages with the following properties (seen in Esperanto)?

Maltese exhibits these properties (which you might have expected after @fdb's answer since Maltese is the "Arabic" European language). The definite article in Maltese is il- and does not change ...
4 votes

Borrowing words along with the articles or other grammatical parts (like Spanish from Arabic)

Cases like this don't even require borrowing. Consider English "newt". This is a native English word, but it's got half an article stuck on it. Old English "efte" became Middle English "ewte", but ...
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