Pragmatic and historical aspects of Definite Article Reduction in northern English dialects
We inquire into Definite Article Reduction (DAR), a phenomenon known to characterize northern English dialects. For this research we collected data from speakers at the North Yorkshire/Lancashire border. While previous studies have largely addressed DAR from a phonological perspective, we examine whether DAR is conditioned by other linguistic factors. The pattern we identify is that speakers show DAR most frequently when they refer to something (i) that is in their immediate environment (situational reference), (ii) that was just mentioned in the conversation (anaphoric reference), or (iii) that is known to the hearer (shared knowledge). We note that these uses correspond to the pragmatic category of “givenness/familiarity”, and may also be associated with the notions “near/close”. We speculate on the emergence of DAR in the North of England, drawing on evidence from the historical record regarding the development of the definite article from the demonstrative paradigm and the contact situation with Scandinavian.
Published online: 31 October 2005
Cited by 13 other publications
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