Two levels for definiteness

Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng, Caroline Heycock, Roberto Zamparelli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Recent research on definiteness has shown that languages can distinguish between an anaphoricand a uniqueness-based notion of definiteness. This distinction may be marked by using different forms of the article, as in Fering, or no determiner in one of the two cases (Hausa, Mandarin): see Schwarz 2009, 2013. Anaphoric (aka “strong”) definites, illustrated in (1a), refer to objects thathave been introduced in the (discourse) context, possibly via various types of bridging relation (see again Schwarz 2009, Jenks 2017, Simpson and Biswas 2016 for discussion on the nature of thes erelations, an issue which we will not address in this contribution). Unique (“weak”) definites, as in(1b), on the other hand, pick up a referent which is the single or maximal element in the property denoted by their restrictor.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of GLOW in Asia XI
Subtitle of host publicationMIT Working Papers in Linguistics
EditorsMichael Yoshitaka Erlewine
Place of PublicationUSA
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameMIT Working Papers in Linguistics
ISSN (Print)1049-1058


  • syntax
  • semantics
  • definite descriptions


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