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The emergence of the definite article in English

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Abstract

In this paper, based on quantitative evidence collected on the YCOE, I argue that the establishment of the definite article in English is no later than the last quarter of the 9th century, being regularly used in Old English prose of the ‘Alfredian’ period. This dating enables one to exclude the possibility that the levelling of inflections, the Norman invasion or the contact with the Danes might have played a role in introducing the definite article as an innovation, and leaves as the sole possible ‘external’ influence the Celtic substratum/adstratum.

References

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