Ritva Laury
Table of contents

There is a vast literature on definiteness, and it is possible to discuss only some of the research in an article of this scope. For book length discussions on the topic, see, for example, Hawkins (1978), Chesterman (1991), and Lyons (1999). The discussion here will proceed in roughly chronological order from early treatments of definiteness by philosophers to descriptions of the use of the definite articles and other markers of definiteness by grammarians. I will then discuss the choice between different types of definite expressions and the research on definiteness in grammar and discourse, the morphosyntactic expression of definiteness in the languages of the world, and finally, the development of definiteness in language acquisition and grammaticalization.

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