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16. Bare nouns in Berbice Dutch Creole

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Abstract

Berbice Dutch determinerless nouns occur frequently in factive contexts, as specific reference nouns – an unexpected finding, as specific reference is usually associated with definiteness, and Berbice Dutch does not lack a definite article. I argue that specific reference as established in discourse is marked by an overt definite article, but that specific reference which is established outside the discourse is marked by a covert definite article. Roberts's (2003) distinction between strong and weak familiarity is able to distinguish between these types of specific reference. Determinerless nouns occur also as plural and mass indefinites on first mention, and as nonreferential nouns, in predicate-like positions. Such bare nouns can be overtly pluralized and are in complementary distribution with overt indefinites, pointing to the presence of a covert indefinite article. This, I argue, heads NumP, like its overt counterpart.

References

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