Grammaticalisation and the Internal Logic of the Indefinite Article

Michael Herslund

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    The West-European languages all develop an indefinite article by a grammaticalisation process of the numeral 'one'. The article describes the different outcomes of this process by distinguishing different patterns resulting from the interpretation of the numeral as a quantifier, a classifier or both. The different patterns are examined in their connection and interaction with both the lexical make-up of nouns (homogenous vs. heterogenous nouns) and the category of number (singular, plural and collective) in Germanic and Romance languages. Three different systems are identified: a quantifier system in Germanic, a qualifier system in Modern French and a mixed system in Old French and Spanish
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalFolia Linguistica
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)341-358
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Classifier
    • Quantifier
    • Plural
    • Indefinite Article
    • Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Nouns
    • Collective

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