13

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 language into another. The standard example of this is hamburger: the original German word was hamburg-er (because it came from the city of Hamburg), but in ...


13

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 article is un and the definite article is l' (elision of lo): un albero (a tree), l'albero (the tree) Before single consonants or consonants followed by semivowels ...


10

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 certain generalizations. In German if you encounter the word Schlüssel on its own you don't know whether you have one key (der) or multiple (die) keys. In French if ...


10

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" or ash-shams "the sun", but al-qamar "the moon".


8

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 invariable for gender, number and case. Arabic fits these criteria.


8

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 through Chaucer and Shakespeare to the modern day it lost that force. In general, though, the process of a common word losing its semantic force and turning into a ...


8

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/ but el iode /eljod/, because of the glide /j/. Also l'hivern /liveɾn/ but el hiat /eljat/. I think it is pretty common to "change the indefinite or definite ...


8

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 sense that what we call "Liaison" is very common, though it rarely changes the writing of the articles. Indefinite articles: Un verre /œ̃ vɛʁ/ (a glass) Un ...


7

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 WALS map. The etymological origins of definiteness marking are quite easy to identify. Definite articles generally originate in some sort of demonstrative ...


7

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 in Proto-Semitic, but definiteness was not a morphological category at that stage. However, some languages developed prefixes and suffixes for this purpose (...


7

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 article is written to the left of the head word. Just as a comment on the inadequacy of this "left / right" terminology.


6

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 often difficult to draw a line between independent words and bound clitics, or between articles and demonstratives. Among the well-known European languages, ...


6

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 some question as to the obligatoriness of the article, if one believes that "if you have articles, everything is either marked with a definite article or an ...


6

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 and pronouns like ille and tъ. In fact, in Romanian the suffix itself is declined and can also occur separately for emphasis. grammar In Macedonian, Bulgarian ...


6

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 (some equivalent to "the"), how they're used varies widely. French uses the definite article for abstract concepts, where English wouldn't: la mort = literally "the ...


6

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' iv) el, la, l' These have the following distribution: i) is formal literary written style; ii) is Balearic Catalan; iii) is current in Catalonia; iv) is ...


6

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 articles. Imperial Aramaic, which has a large corpus, has a suffix א (-ā) as its definite article, which has been linked to the prefixed ה (h-) in Biblical ...


5

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 inflect for number, though. All adjectives inflect for gender. There is no indefinite article, but there is a definite article. The definite article has three ...


5

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 and same spelling, but the difference is in the meaning of the word. The grammar is there, even if it's confused by something else. As you probably know, in ...


5

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 little about the process. Latin has a rich case system allowing free word order which is used as as a discourse marker; words encoding new or salient ...


5

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 the definite article is optional, not mandatory, and I don't think there is any difference between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese in this regard. In ...


5

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 Balkan Sprachbund, like Albanian and Romanian, and Armenian, which works very much like they do in this regard. Turkish does not really have an article but ...


5

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. Massifier (fr): Faire devenir un phénomène de masse, donner un effet de masse à (quelque chose). [en: To cause to become a mass phenomenon, to give a mass effect to (...


4

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 gender. As example: котка+тя = котката [kotka + tya = kotkata] {cat+she} FEMALE куче+то = кучето [kuche + to = kucheto] {dog+it} NEUTRAL елен+той = еленът [...


4

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't clear up what we're talking about. So-called "Micro-Altaic" (Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic languages)? Or "Macro-Altaic" (Micro-Altaic plus Korean and ...


4

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 later, "an ewte" was reanalyzed a "a newte". The same thing also happens in the opposite direction: Old English "naedre" became Middle English "naddere", but ...


4

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 according to number or gender. I can't quite claim that it's invariable as it changes to ic- in front of a c, ix- in front of an x and so on for the so-called sun ...


4

The /l/ of the definite article /al/ assimilates with the next consonant when that consonant is coronal. The affected consonants are /t θ d ð r z s ʃ sˤ dˤ tˤ ðˤ l n/ (the letter jim /dʒ/ is not included, because it was pronounced as /gʲ/ in Classical Arabic). They are called sun letters and the others are moon letters.


4

Not a complete answer, but to the question on variations in different standards and dialects: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_Portuguese#Definite_article_before_possessive The Portuguese version says that both standards allow both variants, but that there are perceptions that the definite article is used less in Brasil. https://pt.wikipedia.org/...


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