On the presence versus absence of determiners in Malagasy

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This article explores definiteness as expressed by the determiner system of Malagasy. In particular, noun phrases with and without an overt determiner are compared in terms of familiarity, uniqueness, and other semantic notions commonly associated with definiteness. It is shown that the determiner does not uniformly signal definiteness (as typically understood) and that bare noun phrases can be interpreted as either definite or indefinite. The determiner instead signals the familiarity of the discourse referent of the DP and the absence of a determiner signals a non-familiar DP. In certain syntactic positions, however, where the determiner is either required or banned, the interpretation of DPs is underdetermined.


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