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Re: definite/indefinite articles

From:Wesley Parish <wes.parish@...>
Date:Friday, April 4, 2003, 12:08
On Friday 04 April 2003 10:33 pm, you wrote:
> Hi, ppl! > Since I'm now 360 msgs behind because of my trip to a conference (as an > interpreter), smbody may have already answered the question. I'm just > popping up to shaw y'all I'm back again, safe and sound :-) > > João Ricardo Oliveira ikrí: > > <<are articles an Indo-European creation?>> > > No, they are not. Natlangs from other families have them too. For example: > Hebrew (Semitic f.): ha(+gemination); Hungarian (Uralic f.): > a/az, egy.
Polynesian as well, eg NZ Maori: Te - "the", singular, Nga - "the", plural; He - indefinite article, Tetahi - some, indefinite singular article, etahi - some, indefinite plural article. Cook Islands Maori: Te - "the", singular, Nga - "the", dual, Te au - "The", plural. Hawai'an: Ka/ke - "The", singular, Na - "the", plural; He - indefinite article. Samoan: Le - "The", singular, missing in action in the plural; Se - indefinite article, singular, Ni - indefinite article, plural. And I regret I don't know nearly enough about the Aboriginal Australian, or Papuan or the rest of the Austronesian family. And as usual, I have been totally neglectful of the African language families, so I don't know if any there have articles - Xhosa appears not to, but then that is probably made up for by the categorization scheme - if it is well-enough known to warrant being fitted into a category-and-number prefix, it probably doesn't need a definite article. (Likewise the Altaic languages and the Sino-Tibetan families.) Any others? Na te po a Wairaka i raru ai - By darkness Wairaka was misled. He kotuku rerenga tahi - A white heron of a single flight. Kei muri i te awe kapara he tangata ke, mana te ao, he ma - behind the tattoed face a stranger stands, he who owns the earth, and he is white. He manako te koura i kore ai - there are no crayfish because you set your heart on them. Waiho ma te whakama e patu - Let them be subdued by shame. He wahine, he whenua, ka ngaro te tangata - For woman, for land, man dies. From "Maori Proverbs", Reed Methuen, 1987 I suppose that is sufficient to illustrate that languages often treat definiteness and indefiniteness differently. The whole concept of definiteness and indefiniteness is just as much semantic and therefore syntactic as it is morphological. (And just for kicks, anyone want to translate and display their translations of the above proverbs? I'll set them on my web site for people to admire! :) Wesley Parish
> > Yitzik
-- Mau e ki, "He aha te mea nui?" You ask, "What is the most important thing?" Maku e ki, "He tangata, he tangata, he tangata." I reply, "It is people, it is people, it is people."