Constructions with and without articles

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Even in languages with a well-developed system of articles, such as Germanic and Romance languages, we find constructions in which the noun can appear without an article. Such constructions are often related to pseudo incorporation (cf. Borik & Gehrke, this volume), but this paper takes a broader perspective in terms of ‘weak referentiality’, and provides a roadmap for within and crosslinguistic variation. Bare nouns are sometimes in complementary distribution with the indefinite article (in predication, incorporation, with/without PPs), and sometimes with the definite article (in (the) hospital, play (the) piano). There is a third class of bare constructions which is neither definite nor indefinite, but plural or quantificational in nature. Here we find bare coordination (mother and child), reduplication (English from door to door = many doors in succession) and bare PPs like Dutch per jaar (= each year). The three classes are shown to be subject to different constraints within and across languages, due to the interaction of lexicon, syntax and semantics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe syntax and semantics of pseudo-incorporation
EditorsOlga Borik, Berit Gehrke
Place of PublicationLeiden
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-29108-9
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-29034-1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameSyntax and Semantics


  • semantics
  • referentiality
  • bare nominals


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