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dc.contributor.authorVan Langendonck, Willy
dc.contributor.authorVan de Velde, Mark
dc.identifier.citationProceedings of the 23rd International Congress of Onomastic Sciencesen
dc.description.abstractCrosslinguistically, we observe various onymic functions of the definite article that hardly occur in appellatives (common nouns). Since names are inherently definite, languages can ‘play’ with the redundant overt definite articles accompanying unmodified names. They might be absent; they may be generalized to all proprial classes; they may have a classificatory function where articulated names alternate with articleless names. Thus, in Western European languages, we have an anthropocentric hierarchy ranging from highly animate, i.e., human or humanized (settlement or country) names, with a ‘zero’ article ('John', 'Mary'; 'London', 'England'), to inanimate names, often accompanied by an overt article ('the Thames', 'the Highlands'). Typically, when regions become genuine states, they lose their overt article: '(the) Ukraine'. In such languages, a possible ‘de-humanizing’ use can spill over to personal names, as in certain Flemish dialects, where the forename 'de Jan' (the John) is an augmentative variant of 'Jan', just as 'de Limburg' is an augmentative variant of the province name 'Limburg'. If such a use becomes more frequent, as in German forenames ('der Johann'), the augmentative force is reduced to mere familiarity. This familiarity may manifest itself as a positive connotation, as in Italian 'il Petrarca', 'la Callas'. Special forms can occur, as in Catalan 'en Joan' (the John). Even the indefinite article may adopt an emotive use in personal names ("A devastated Claes entered the court-room"). Additional crosslinguistic data will be provided.en
dc.publisherYork Universityen
dc.rightsThe following articles are © 2009 with the individual authors. They are made available free of charge from this page as a service to the community under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivative Works license version 3.0. For full details go to
dc.subjectIndefiniteness of Proper Namesen
dc.subjectProper Namesen
dc.subjectDefiniteness of Proper Namesen
dc.titleThe Functions of (In)definiteness Markers with Proper Namesen
dc.title.alternativeSession Paperen

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