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Inalienable possession

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Abstract

We argue that the use of the definite article in French inalienable possession constructions does not lead us to abandon a unified analysis of definite articles. We face two challenges. First, the definite article in French inalienable possession constructions does not seem to convey uniqueness: <i>Jean l&#65533;ve la main</i> &#65533;John raises the hand&#65533; is felicitous independently of whether Jean has one or two hands. Second, if the definite article in these constructions is a run-of-the-mill definite article we seem to be left without an explanation for the variation between French and English that led both Gu&#65533;ron (1983, 1985) and Vergnaud and Zubizarreta (1992) to assume that the definite article in French is structurally different from the one in English.

References

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