Definite Articles (Feature 28)
A definite article is a morpheme which accompanies nouns and which codes definiteness or specificity, like the in English. This is a somewhat broader use of the term definite article than is common, since it includes (i) affixes on nouns that code definiteness; and (ii) demonstratives, if those demonstratives are used as markers of definiteness.
Definite NPs are NPs whose referent can be uniquely identified by the hearer. Unique identifiability occurs under two main kinds of circumstances: One of these is in anaphoric situations, to refer back to something mentioned in the preceding discourse (e.g. I bought a new bicycle... My husband likes the bicycle). The other is in associative contexts, to refer to something that is not mentioned in the preceding discourse but that is identifiable because of an associative relationship (e.g. I bought a new bicycle. The saddle is very comfortable).
Demonstratives are commonly diachronically extended to definite articles, and it is sometimes difficult to decide whether a demonstrative should be considered to have a definite article use or not. Here we consider a demonstrative to have a definite-article use if it occurs in associative contexts. If a demonstrative is used somewhat more often than in French or English, but cannot be used in associative contexts, then we do not consider it to be a definite article (cf. I bought a new bicycle... My husband likes this bicycle -- But not: *I bought a new bicycle. This saddle is very comfortable; hence English this does not count as a definiteness marker). Obligatoriness in definite contexts is not a prerequisite for definite-article use.
For this feature, only one value can be selected. If a language has several definite articles that have different properties, only the more widely used one should be taken into account.
|1||The language has a definite-article word that is distinct from the demonstratives||English the (art) vs. this/that (dem)|
|2||The language has a definite-article word that is identical to a demonstrative||German der/die/das ‘the; that’|
|3||The language has a definite-article affix on nouns||Swedish and-en 'the ghost'|
|4||The language has no definite article, but an indefinite article||E.g. Turkish bir ‘a’|
|5||The language has neither a definite nor an indefinite article||E.g. Russian kniga ‘book, a book, the book’|
|6||Other||(Please give details in the “General comments” field.)|