Linguistics in the Netherlands 2015
  • ISSN 0929-7332
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9919


Indefinite articles are generally used to introduce new or unfamiliar entities to the discourse. However, in noun phrases such as een opgeluchte Obama ‘a relieved Obama’, the proper noun denotes a familiar individual who does not even have to be new in the discourse. Yet, an indefinite article is used in this construction. We have conducted a corpus study in written Dutch and a production experiment in order to find out the characteristics of this construction as well as its definite counterpart. We will show that the denotation of the adjective plays a crucial role in the semantic composition of the construction, and that preferences for either a definite or an indefinite article correlate with differences in the duration of the state denoted by the adjective. We will use semantic type-theory to account for these findings.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): indefinite articles; proper nouns; stage-level adjectives; type-theory
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