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Re: definite/indefinite articles

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Monday, March 31, 2003, 5:46
----- Original Message -----
From: "Joe" <joe@...>

> > > Michael David Martin wrote: > > (...) > > > > How about having the definite article but not the > > > >indefinite article?
> > I believe Old English had only a definite article, not > > an indefinite one.
> Yes indeed. And it wasn't quite a definite article. It could be omitted. > It was like halfway between a demonstrative pronoun and a definite
article. Demonstrative adjective. There was _sum_, which like L. quidam meant "a certain." Sum mann, "a certain man." There was also _an_, "one," which of course is the origin for our indefinite article. But you're right... the splitting of the demonstrative adjective into "that" and "the" is a curious development, the subtleties of which I can't even begin to detail. (The neuter demonstrative pronoun developed nicely into our "I want THAT." or "THAT's what will come of it." That you can't do that with the definite article proves the difference between demonstrative adjective and pronoun. "The" remains adjectival.) Sally Caves Eskkoat ol ai sendran, rohsan nuehra celyil takrem bomai nakuo. "My shadow follows me, putting strange, new roses into the world."