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Article movement (was Re: me and my languages)

From:Jesse Bangs <jaspax@...>
Date:Wednesday, September 12, 2001, 21:17
> >Yet in none of these can you (apparently) separate the definitely
> >'az' from the noun 'ember.' This would be possible in a language with > >*true* free word order and no adjacency constraints, but I'll bet a > >fairly large sum of money that no natural language is like that. > >(Syntactically, I think this has to do with the no-crossing-branches > >constraint and some other stuff, if anyone cares.) > > I might be willing to take that bet. Off the top of my head, I can
think of
> languages that can separate nouns and quantifiers, adjectives, > demonstratives, and other modifiers. The only thing that I cannot > immediately think of is a language that allows separation of a > definite article from its noun.
It occurred to me that this might be more informative if we look at it from the opposite direction and consider movement as a parameter for considering what is and is not an article. Using Latin and Greek as examples, since they're the only two free word-order languages that I'm familiar with, we see that sentences like "That(acc) I-see man(acc)" are perfectly legal: Illum video virum. (Latin) ekeínon horô: tòn ándra. (Greek) I hear that Mohawk is the same way, as I'm sure are dozens of others. Adjectives, quantifiers, etc. are all obviously movable. Furthermore, Greek usually "frames" a noun phrase with the definite article and the noun, so the definite article comes first in the phrase and the noun comes last. But what is definitely *not* moveable in Greek is the definite article itself: *tón horô: ándra. The(acc) I-see man(acc). If anyone can come up with a language in which the above sentence is grammatical, I'll be shocked. I think it presents a universal definition of an article as that which cannot be removed from the noun phrase. Actually, I'll be surprised if anyone can even come up with something that has every property of articles *except* that it can move from a noun phrase. Jesse S. Bangs Pelíran jaspax@ "There is enough light for those that desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition." --Blaise Pascal