Chapter published in:Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Vietnamese Linguistics
Edited by Nigel Duffield, Trang Phan and Tue Trinh
[Studies in Language Companion Series 211] 2019
► pp. 155–180
(In)definiteness of Vietnamese noun phrases
In this contribution we discuss the factors determining the definite or indefinite interpretation of Noun Phrases in Vietnamese. In contrast to what has been claimed in the literature, we find that NPs consisting of a bare noun and NPs consisting of a numeral, a classifier (cl) and a noun, while generally indefinite, may permit a definite interpretation in certain contexts (in contrast to NPs consisting of just a classifier and a noun, which are always definite). We then compare the relevant patterns in Vietnamese with their counterparts in Mandarin and Cantonese. Although the differences may seem striking we show that they can be captured by some simple morpho-syntactic parameters.
Keywords: bare nouns, classifier NPs, indefiniteness, definiteness, Mandarin, Cantonese, subject position, object position
Published online: 09 October 2019
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