Indefinitely definite expressions

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Languages with articles indicating the definiteness or indefiniteness of noun phrases sometimes allow certain forms to occur without articles. In several such cases that are examined here, the expressions without articles are neither definite nor indefinite in and of themselves, but can be interpreted either way in one context or another. One case from Old Norse and two cases from English that work this way will be discussed. But the direct correlation between the presence of an overt article and an indication of (in)definiteness, and the absence of an article and the lack of such an indication cannot be maintained. Proper names without an article are definite, and count noun plurals and mass noun singulars are indefinite without an article.


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