The semantics of definite expressions and the grammaticalization of THE

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Abstract / Description of output

This paper explores the claim that definite expressions involve universal and existential quantification from the point of view of Word Grammar, in order to establish whether the quantificational view of definiteness is compatible with a particular cognitive theory of language, and to see how it compares with the familiarity treatment of definiteness. It is argued that the quantificational approach is superior to the familiarity approach in the analysis of a number of linguistic phenomena, and a number of Word Grammar analyses are presented. The paper concludes with an investigation into the grammaticalization of the English definite article, in order to compare the merits of the two approaches, and argues that the quantificational approach delivers a simpler and preferable account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-644
Number of pages42
JournalStudies in Language
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


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