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Article


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Pronoun.

1. General characteristics and usage of articles.

2. Pronoun. General characteristics.

3. Grammatical categories of pronoun (case, number, gender).

The English noun is accompanied by an article (the, a/an).

As any other part of speech the article is defined in accordance with the meaning, form and function.

Meaning. The article has a grammatical meaning of determination, non-determination.

Morphological form. The article is a form word that serves as a noun determiner.

Syntactiс function. The article marks off a noun or a noun-phrase as part of the sentence. The article can perform anaphoric function (reference to backward) and cataphoric function (reference to forward), e.g. This is a pen. Thepen is white. (anaphora).

The problem of article determination has given rise to much controversy; there is much dispute about the status of the article itself and the status of its combination with the noun.

The question is: is the article an independent word like other determiners, does it form a word-combination with the noun which it determines, or is it a purely grammatical, dependable, morpheme-like auxiliary word used to build an analytical form of the noun?

M.Blokh regards the article as a special type of grammatical auxiliary.

P. Christophersen and some other linguists regard the article as an element that makes a grammatical category of a noun (determination or interrelationship). They consider that there are 3 forms of a noun: zero-form, a-form и the-form. (Pospelova singles out 5 forms = a-form sing, the-form sing, the-form plur, zero-form sing, zero-form pl).

Some linguists equate the article with a pronoun, and consider the combination “article+noun” as an attributive combination. The article determines the left border of an attributive combination. E.g. the leaves. But in this case the article should have a separate lexical meaning and can be used apart from the noun. But it is contrary to fact.

There are pros and cons to sustain each of these two approaches, but it seems more reasonable to interpret the article in terms of the general linguistic field approach as a lingual unit of intermediary status between the word and the morpheme, as a special type of grammatical auxiliary, and its combination with the noun as an intermediary phenomenon between the word and the word-combination.



The article is a determiner, a unit which determines a noun, but unlike other determiners (the lexical means of determination: this, that, some, any, very, certain, kind of, etc.), it is so general, that it has become a grammatical means of determination in modern English.

When no lexical determiner is used, a noun is obligatorily modified either by a definite article ‘the’, or an indefinite article ‘a/an’, or by a meaningful absence of such, otherwise defined as a “zero article”.

There’s a question of the number of articles in the English language.

If we treat the article as a word, we shall have to admit that English has only two articles - the and a/an.

But if we treat the article as a word-morpheme, we shall have three articles - the, a/an, ø. The idea of a “zero article” has been challenged by different scholars on the grounds that only morphemes can be distinguished as “zero marks” in oppositional correlations of words.

B.Ilyish thinks that the choice between the two alternatives remains a matter of opinion.

Still, the following semantic and paradigmatic presentation of the category of article determination makes it possible to distinguish three, rather than just two, “article + noun” forms.

The definite article expresses the identification or individualization of the referent of the noun. The object that the noun denotes is taken as concrete and individual, or definite.

The indefinite article expresses classification, or relative, classifying generalization of the referent, which means that this article refers the object denoted to a certain class.

The zero article, or, the meaningful non-use of the article, expresses absolute generalization, abstractionof the referent denoted by the noun. It renders the idea of the highest degree of generalization and abstraction.

The meaningful absence of the article should be distinguished from contexts in which articles are just omitted – in telegrams, in titles and headlines, in various notices, where their omission helps save space, e.g.: Arrest of Black Lecturer Hightens Distrust; lecturer accuses police of racism. There are no semantic grounds for the absence of the article in fixed expressions, e.g.: to be in debt, at first sight, to lose heart, by chance, cigarette upon cigarette, at night, etc. The use of the definite and indefinite articles can also be fixed in set expressions, e.g.: to be at a loss, on the whole, to take the trouble, out of the question, a great many, in a hurry, etc. Such cases can be treated as lexicalization, cf.: to keep house – вести хозяйство, to keep the house – сидеть дома.

There are also certain fixed contexts in which the use of articles has no semantic ground; for example, with the names of newspapers the definite article is used, e.g.: the Washington Post, the Sun, while with the names of magazines no article is used, e.g.: Cosmopolitan; likewise, no article is used with the word television, e.g.: We often watch television; but the word radio is usually used with the definite article, e.g.: We often listen to the radio. Most geographic names are used without articles, e.g.: Moscow, Russia, thought some are used with the articles, e.g.: the Hague; the names of mountains are used without articles, e.g.: Mount Everest, while mountain chains are given with the definite articles, e.g.: the Andes, the Rocky Mountains; the same applies to the names of separate islands and of groups of islands, e.g.: Sicily – the Canary Islands; etc. Some of these cases are treated as lexicalized nominations (the Hague), or traditional usage (the Washington Post, but Cosmopolitan), others are described as specific situational rules, codifying the use of articles in concrete situational conditions, mainly in the course of practical grammar with no attempts at semantic explanation.



Still, many of the situational rules are firmly grounded on the semantic difference between the three articles as presented above. For example, the use of the indefinite article with nouns used in the function of a predicative is determined by the classifying character of the predicative itself, e.g.: He is a teacher (belongs to the class of “teachers”); or, the indefinite article is “naturally” used with nouns modified by a descriptive, classifying attribute, while the definite article is used in contexts with limiting (restrictive, particularizing) attributes, which single the referent out, or individualize it, cf.: There is a young man waiting for you; She is a woman of courage. – This is the young man I told you about; She is the nicest person I’ve ever met; This is the right door. Or, the rule that we should use the definite articles with the names of unique objects is obvious, because unique objects are without any doubt definite, e.g.: the sun, the earth (but, note: ø Mars, ø Venus). Obvious semantic reasons determine the use of the indefinite article with the new information in a sentence, the rheme, the communicative center of the utterance, and the definite article with the old, already known facts, the theme of the sentence, e.g.: There was a man on the platform. The man was staring at me.

 

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