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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/11470/222

Title: An examination of the differences between simple definite and indefinite noun phrases.
Authors: SHERRIFF, Daryl
Keywords: Articles
definite and indefinite noun phrases
inclusiveness
identifiability
defining
referring
specifying
'take it'
Issue Date: 31-Mar-2000
Publisher: 福岡女学院大学
Abstract: This paper examines different approaches to the question of how simple definite and indefinite noun phrases of the form 'the car' and 'a car' function in the language. It questions the traditional and indeed currently prevalent view that these noun phrases both have a referential function, and argues instead that definite and indefinite phrases, while functioning specifically, actually perform quite distinct but separate roles in the language. The paper argues that one chief function of simple definite noun phrases is to refer while the central role of simple indefinite noun phrases is to define. It is further argued that there is no passive understanding of definite noun phrases because every use of such a noun phrase must be taken by the hearer/listener to select out a noun-specific item introduced at some point in the discourse. The final part of the paper maintains that, since the relationship between a particular noun phrase and whatever it refers to, is contingent, taking noun phrases requires work. The nature of this work might at first appear inconsequential or even trivial but is actually of some considerable importance.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/11470/222
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