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Non-Maximal Definites in Romance


Gerards, David Paul; Stark, Elisabeth (2022). Non-Maximal Definites in Romance. Isogloss, 8(5):1-32.

Abstract

Mainly based on data from Old Spanish and Modern Francoprovençal, this paper discusses a hitherto underresearched use of the Romance definite article that cannot straightforwardly be explained by recurring to any of the standard analyses of semantic definiteness, i.e., maximality and/or familiarity. We show that such weakly referential definites are definites with representative object interpretations licensed by the kind-oriented mode of talk and not short weak definites. They denote inherently non-specific, semantically number neutral regular objects whose only co(n)textual relevance is their being typical instantiations of their corresponding kind. Representative object definites are shown to be favored by ‘habitual’ readings of the predicate (and text genres like recipes, treatises, narratives about what people used to do in former times, etc.). In Francoprovençal, this is the case especially in the scope of non-perfective verb tenses in prepositional or presentational complements and sometimes in direct objects. In Old Spanish, non-maximal definites often occur in the scope of non-assertive mood (imperative/subjunctive, due to the genre of recipes), while, at the same time, introducing important discourse referents. In addition, in the latter language such definites are demonstrated to be positively susceptible to priming by preceding non-maximal definites.

Abstract

Mainly based on data from Old Spanish and Modern Francoprovençal, this paper discusses a hitherto underresearched use of the Romance definite article that cannot straightforwardly be explained by recurring to any of the standard analyses of semantic definiteness, i.e., maximality and/or familiarity. We show that such weakly referential definites are definites with representative object interpretations licensed by the kind-oriented mode of talk and not short weak definites. They denote inherently non-specific, semantically number neutral regular objects whose only co(n)textual relevance is their being typical instantiations of their corresponding kind. Representative object definites are shown to be favored by ‘habitual’ readings of the predicate (and text genres like recipes, treatises, narratives about what people used to do in former times, etc.). In Francoprovençal, this is the case especially in the scope of non-perfective verb tenses in prepositional or presentational complements and sometimes in direct objects. In Old Spanish, non-maximal definites often occur in the scope of non-assertive mood (imperative/subjunctive, due to the genre of recipes), while, at the same time, introducing important discourse referents. In addition, in the latter language such definites are demonstrated to be positively susceptible to priming by preceding non-maximal definites.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Romance Studies
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
470 Latin & Italic languages
410 Linguistics
440 French & related languages
460 Spanish & Portuguese languages
450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Language and Linguistics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Uncontrolled Keywords:non-maximal definite articles, representative object interpretations, kind-oriented mode of talk, weak referentiality, weak definites, Old Spanish, Old Portuguese, Francoprovençal
Language:French
Date:11 November 2022
Deposited On:30 Jan 2023 14:34
Last Modified:27 Mar 2024 04:42
Publisher:Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
ISSN:2385-4138
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5565/rev/isogloss.236
Official URL:https://revistes.uab.cat/isogloss/article/view/v8-n5-gerards-stark
Related URLs:https://www.rose.uzh.ch/de/seminar/wersindwir/mitarbeitende/stark/DiFuPaRo.html#4._Output (Research Data)
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID172751
  • : Project TitleDistribution and function of ‘partitive articles’ in Romance (DiFuPaRo): a microvariation analysis
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)