A semantic approach to noun phrase structure and the definite – indefinite distinction in Germanic and Romance

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This article deals with the relation between the structure and the semantics of noun phrases. Two complexes of meaning are taken to be grammatically derived in noun phrases. One complex concerns the conceptualization of the entity denoted by the noun phrase, whereas the other concerns the restriction of the set of referents. The latter complex is related to the distinction between definite and indefinite noun phrases.The article also deals with the variation within and between Germanic and Romance noun phrases, showing how this variation may be explained on the basis of the preceding analysis. In particular, the different uses of definite and indefinite noun phrases are highlighted.


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