In languages that have a definite article but no indefinite article, the definite article typically maps to definites, and the bare noun maps to indefinites. We investigate this mapping in Malagasy, which imposes an additional restriction: bare nouns cannot be subjects. We ask whether the subject can be interpreted as indefinite, given the obligatory nature of the article. We also look at DPs in other positions (direct object, clefted subjects) to determine whether the mapping between form and meaning is one-to-one. To answer these questions, we administered an on-line questionnaire that presented participants with the choice of the article or the bare noun in the different positions (subject, object, cleft) in contexts that favoured an indefinite/novel interpretation. As predicted, the article was obligatory in subject position, but disfavoured in the object and cleft position. These results confirm current descriptions in the literature. We compare these results with a similar case of definite article in indefinite nominals found in Italian and propose that the article does not carry definiteness features (at least in these cases) but overtly marks (abstract) Case assignment on subjects, while it can remain silent on objects.

Variation in the Occurrence and Interpretation of Articles in Malagasy: A Comparison with Italian

Paul, Ileana
;
Giusti, Giuliana;Lebani, Gianluca E.
2022

Abstract

In languages that have a definite article but no indefinite article, the definite article typically maps to definites, and the bare noun maps to indefinites. We investigate this mapping in Malagasy, which imposes an additional restriction: bare nouns cannot be subjects. We ask whether the subject can be interpreted as indefinite, given the obligatory nature of the article. We also look at DPs in other positions (direct object, clefted subjects) to determine whether the mapping between form and meaning is one-to-one. To answer these questions, we administered an on-line questionnaire that presented participants with the choice of the article or the bare noun in the different positions (subject, object, cleft) in contexts that favoured an indefinite/novel interpretation. As predicted, the article was obligatory in subject position, but disfavoured in the object and cleft position. These results confirm current descriptions in the literature. We compare these results with a similar case of definite article in indefinite nominals found in Italian and propose that the article does not carry definiteness features (at least in these cases) but overtly marks (abstract) Case assignment on subjects, while it can remain silent on objects.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
languages-07-00202 (2).pdf

embargo fino al 01/02/2024

Tipologia: Versione dell'editore
Licenza: Accesso gratuito (solo visione)
Dimensione 495.39 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
495.39 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in ARCA sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/5001232
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact