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The definite article in Indo-European: Emergence of a new grammatical category?

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Abstract

The development of the definite article in Indo-European is a complex innovation, because if most modern languages have defi nite articles, there are important exceptions. In addition, within the Indo-European dialect groups the development of the definite article may not always seem consistent. Moreover, the definite article may trace back to different elements in the individual languages and its functions may vary cross-linguistically within a subgroup, possibly reflecting different degrees of grammaticalization. On the basis of patterns in early uses of definite articles in Greek and article-like uses of demonstratives in Latin, I will trace the change in question, evaluate the possible role of language contact and the possible connection with other phenomena, among them devices to express defi niteness in Indo-European languages that do not have defi nite articles. The aim of the paper is to establish whether or not the definite article is a truly innovative feature in Indo-European or whether it is merely a formal innovation of a category that existed already.

References

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