Re: Proto-Semitic (was Re: markjjones@HOTMAIL.COM)
|From:||Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, March 12, 2005, 19:31|
> There is a universal phenomenon, where sometimes definite articles lose
> their power to definitize. Because of this there are those who claim
> that what is today an indefinite article (Arabic |tanwiin| -n, Akkadian
> -m) once was a definite article.
I've never seen an example of a definite article turning into an
indefinite article (I don't speak Arabic though). It's true that
definite articles often lose their definiteness, but this isn't the same
as turning into an indefinite article. The tendency in many languages is
for usage to spread until the article indicates specificality rather
than definiteness and from there turn into a general NP marker. At this
point it covers both indefinite and definite meaning, but it hasn't
turned into an indefinite article.