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Re: CHAT: Definite/Indefinite Article Distinction

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Monday, September 16, 2002, 19:07
Andreas Johansson writes:
 > Christophe Grandsire wrote:
 > >
 > >En réponse à Joe <joe@...>:
 > >
 > > >
 > > > In that case, english has 3 articles 'a/an', 'the' and 'some'.
 > > >
 > >
 > >Not really. 'Some' isn't as much used as the articles 'a/an' and 'the', and
 > >certainly not comparable to the frequency of use of the partitive article
 > >in
 > >French. But it's true that it's quite comparable to a plural version of
 > >'a/an',
 > >and we are taught in France that it works like French plural article 'des'
 > >or
 > >the partitive article, just not used as often.
 > Don't "some" indicate a fairly small number of whatever one's talking about?
 > It does to this L2 speaker, at any rate ...
 > If so, it's a paucal indefinite article, if an article at all.

Yes and no.  It indicates less than the totality, whether numbered or
mass, if there's some totality understood.  Partitive is probably a
better term, as used in French.  You wouldn't normally use it where
you could also use "many" or "a lot of", but it's a little hard to say
whether this is because "some" implies a small number/quantity, or
because you'd just be withholding relevant information.  It'd be
considered understatement, but not exactly a lie.  At least, this is
my understanding.