Article published in:Nominal Determination: Typology, context constraints, and historical emergence
Edited by Elisabeth Stark, Elisabeth Leiss and Werner Abraham
[Studies in Language Companion Series 89] 2007
► pp. 189–213
The definite article in non-specific object noun phrases: Comparing French and Italian
Italian allows for the use of the definite article in non-specific direct object NPs ( mettersi la giacca ‘put on a jacket’, avere il gatto ‘have a cat’). However, in French, the corresponding constructions typically take only the indefinite article ( se mettre un blouson, avoir un chat ). We present a corpus analysis and a questionnaire study which both establish a striking contrast between French and Italian on this point. We argue that the more widespread use of the Italian definite article in this non-specific function shows that it is further grammaticalized than its French counterpart. This conclusion calls for a reconsideration of the widespread view of French as the language with the more grammaticalized article system.
Published online: 23 August 2007
Cited by 1 other publications
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