Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here


Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this chapter

+ Tax (if applicable)

Chapter Summary

Determiners and definiteness have been extensively studied in formal linguistics. This introductory chapter of the book on Crosslinguistic Studies on Noun Phrase Structure and Reference discusses few key issues addressed in current research on definiteness and (in)definite articles, in order to place the contributions gathered in the book in a wider theoretical perspective. Many studies regard the occurrence of definite determiners as licensed by two semantic properties: Uniqueness (or Maximality), and Familiarity. Familiarity has been modelled as the contrast between newly introduced discourse referents and previously introduced referents. The determiners are required to turn a predicate into a referential argument. Definite noun phrases are often characterised as expressions which denote entities already introduced into the (mental) "index file" listing the discourse referents available to the speaker and hearer, and indefinite noun phrases as expressions introducing new discourse referents.

Keywords: definite articles; definite noun phrases; definiteness; determiners; familiarity; indefinite noun phrases; semantic properties



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Crosslinguistic Studies on Noun Phrase Structure and Reference — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation