Determination in endocentric and exocentric languages: With evidence primarily from Danish and Italian

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In this paper it is argued that there is a correlation between lexico-semantic specificity and a tendency towards textual “promotion” of nouns (and, also, of verbs). Textually promoted nouns serve as “instantiators” of nominal “occurrences”, i.e. first, second or third order entities, and in order for a noun to instantiate an entity in a text, a coding of the feature [± identifiable to the hearer] is needed (possibly along with other features as well). In other words: generally, the noun must appear with a determiner. In fact, there is a general tendency for Romance nouns (which are lexically more specific than Germanic ones) to appear with a determiner, whereas Germanic nouns much more often appear undetermined and, possibly, incorporated in verbal or prepositional structures. The mentioned correlation hypothesis is substantiated with evidence mainly from Danish and Italian.


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