Volume 39, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0929-7332
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9919



While kinship relations in Dutch are usually introduced by a possessive determiner, Twitter users have recently been observed to use a definite article in that position. To learn more about the characteristics of this construction, we performed an exploratory investigation of the definite article possession construction with Dutch kinship terms on Twitter. We analysed 100 tweets for 24 kinship terms each, and annotated for the type of pre-nominal modifier used. Results show that the phenomenon is far from peripheral, as 13.2% of all selected tweets featured a definite article. The construction was most frequent with descending and horizontal relationship terms, and with improper kin terms (i.e. terms with a non-kin meaning at least as prominent as kinship use; Dahl & Koptsjevkaja-Tamm 2001: 202). These findings were explained by pointing to redundancy and the comical effect of distancing the construction creates.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): corpus linguistics; definite articles; Dutch; possession; Twitter
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