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The status of the article in English





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Specific reference

Generic reference

Newland Archer prided himself on his knowledge of Italian art.

A doctor is not better than his patient.

Horses are intelligent animals.

The horse is less to the Arab than clay is to the Bursley man.

The Americans are so jealous because they haven’t got a Royal Family of their own. [6]

 

 

At the zoo we saw tigers and lions. A lion and two tigers are kept in the same cage. Thelion was eating, the tigers were sleeping.

 

Interestingly, the use of nouns with the zero article in such cases as tigers and lions is referred to as indefinite specific reference. [7]

Therefore, in this paper some new terms are being introduced. They are supposed to complement and support the existing terminology, the use of which is marked by references to original sources. (See Notes)

 

 

1. Compare the terms determiner and article.

2. What is the traditional presentation of the articles in reference books based on?

3. Adduce examples of your own to illustrate discrepancy between the data provided in grammar books and actual use.

 

In view of all the complexity of the subject itself and the level of sophistication advanced and professionally-oriented learners have reached, the English articles should be discussed not only practically, but also on theoretical grounds.

It is not surprising that such a multi-faceted phenomenon as the English article has been approached differently both in this country and abroad, which resulted in quite a number of theories. However, all of them generally fall into two groups thus refrecting two points of view on the status of the article in the English language.

On the one hand, articles in English are viewed as a syncategorematic part of speech which include the so called adjectival pronouns with a weakened meaning of their own. [8] With the noun they specify, articles form a word-combination.

The articles present a specific class of determiners which is a manifestation of the conceptual category of deixis constituted by the opposition of definiteness and indefiniteness (определенность/неопределенность). [9]



On the other hand, articles are regarded as auxiliary components within grammatical forms of the noun. They are also approached categorially, i.e. nominal forms with the definite, indefinite and zero articles are believed to express a grammatical category whose content is defined variously, for example, definiteness and indefiniteness, part and whole (общее/целое), identification and non-identification (идентификация/отсутствие идентификации), etc. [10] We find it relevant to refer to the grammatical category in question as based on the opposition of abstraction and specification (абстракция/отвлечение-конкретизация/индивидуализация), for our theory is indissolubly connected with prof. A.I. Smirnitsky’s views on the functions and meanings of articles.

According to prof. A.I. Smirnitsky, the lexical meaning of the definite article is individualisation, the lexical meaning of the indefinite article is classification, and, finally, the meaning of the zero article, or its meaningful absence is abstraction.

The viewpoint suggested in the present textbook is a necessary compromise between the two theories discussed above, because the meanings of abstraction, classification, and individualisation are no longer considered to be lexical meanings. Nor are articles regarded as words in their own right. What we are after is to prove that abstraction, classification, and individualisation are expressed by the structure “article + noun”.

True, in language, the conceptual category of abstraction-specification is mainly rperesented by lexical means, such as abstract and concrete nouns. However, in speech, depending on the communicative need of a linguistic situation, the speaker/writer seeks to specify the level, or degree of abstraction/specification of the thing-meant, thus using a particular article form of a noun. In other words, articles should be taken as specific grammatical elements which represent the conceptual category under analysis.

 

 

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