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10 votes
Accepted

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

The present answers are in principle correct, but do not explain the fundamental issues with this idea. In short: The "God" lexeme is relatively infrequent to develop into a definite article. ...
Keelan's user avatar
  • 4,221
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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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7 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 and ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
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 (...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.1k
6 votes

How is the the adjective in a definite noun phrase different from a nondefinite one in Germanic and Balto-Slavic languages?

The adjective systems in Balto-Slavic and German languages are similar only from a very broad typological and historical point of view. Most Slavic languages — I can speak about Russian, but it must ...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Pronominalized adjectives in Lithuanian

A native speaker here. They are definitely not rare, one can treat them as commonplace. And not just adjectives, but also pronominalized participles and pronouns. But they are also not as frequently ...
Rolandas's user avatar
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 ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
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 ...
Luís Henrique's user avatar
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 ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
4 votes

Use of the definite article in European vs. Brazilian Portuguese

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 ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
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 ...
Bulgarian's user avatar
3 votes

Definite article and domain of discourse

The purpose of the language is communication, and the communication is carried out by giving some new information about something the listener already knows, that is, about some old information. In ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.5k
3 votes

How to translate words like "the" to other languages?

Determiners (the standard term for words like "the") have long been a problem for formal semantics, which I think is what you're trying to do here—translate a sentence into some formalized, ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.1k
3 votes

How is the the adjective in a definite noun phrase different from a nondefinite one in Germanic and Balto-Slavic languages?

The wikipedia article is (as often) badly formulated. "In the Germanic languages" is wrong. "In (some) Germanic languages" would be all right.
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.3k
3 votes

Why languages have the concept of "the"

Person went to store. In Russian Человек пошел в магазин, in Turkish Kişi mağazaya gitti. Wondering why that word is in English, and if all languages have this feature or some of them do it like ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
3 votes

Why does Italian use definite articles before possessive adjectives, except when these are followed by a singular family noun?

Generally (in Central Italian), the definite article always accompanies a possessive pronoun - except when referring to a certain kinship names (singenionimi) in the singular. These are: padre, madre,...
iacobo's user avatar
  • 3,132
2 votes

What is the hypernym of names, unique titles, and definite descriptions?

What you are looking for is probably the singular term, i.e. a term that inherently refers to an object, see here. On the other hand, following Frege, we have predicates (or functions) denoting ...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
2 votes

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

The Arabic divine name allāhu does indeed contain the article al-, it being (according to the generally held view) a contraction of al + ʼilāhu. The Biblical divine names Yahweh and Elohim do not ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.3k
2 votes

Earlier stages of definite/indefinite conjugations in Hungarian

However, the indefinite conjugation is used when the direct object is a first or second person pronoun. As a native speaker (not a linguist) I disagree that we should call this "indefinite ...
Szabolcs's user avatar
  • 704
2 votes

Languages with definite and indefinite conjugation

Inuit languages have specific and nonspecific verbs. Specific verbs are used when the direct object is definite, and nonspecific verbs are used in other cases. However, the relationship between these ...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
  • 1,288
2 votes

Is there a rule when the use of the definite article on proper nouns is appropriate in Semitic languages?

In Arabic all proper nouns are determined, but some take the definite article al-, and some do not. For example you say miṣr “Egypt”, but al-ˁirāq. There is no logic to this; it is lexicalised. Some ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.3k
1 vote

How does lack of definite articles affect Malayalam? [In comparison to Germanic languages]

Not a Malayalam speaker but attempting this as a fellow Dravidian Kannada speaker. It makes no difference, unless one is hellbent on importing English idioms. The context always helps. We add the word ...
vin's user avatar
  • 611
1 vote

truth condition of 'uniqueness' in the (neo) Russellian theory

Suppose you've phoned me about some issue or other, and I tell you what it says in SPE, which I say I am looking at right now, open on the bed in front of me. What am I referring to as "the bed&...
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 12.5k
1 vote
Accepted

truth condition of 'uniqueness' in the (neo) Russellian theory

The existential quantifier doesn't mean "one", it means "at least one". So ∃x(student(x) ⋀ met(j,x)) translates as "John met at least one student". This formalization is ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
1 vote

Definite descriptions and essentially indistinguishable participants

I think it solves most of the natural language problem to realize that a definite description conveys the uniqueness of its referent (rather than assuming it). And the rest is solved when you realize ...
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 12.5k
1 vote

generic definite article with uncountable/mass nouns after preposition 'of' indicating material

If we translate the two sentences, preserving the definite/indefinite articles, we would get something like: مائدة من النحاس المحفور = a table of (the) engraved brass Of course in English, you would ...
WaelJ's user avatar
  • 129
1 vote

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

As of Turkic languages I think there are at least 2 ways to express indefiniteness: By adding bir (one) in front of the noun. By omitting accusative case suffix. Examples from Kazakh language: Ağaş ...
Tuňuquq's user avatar
  • 257

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