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date: 06 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This paper is about definiteness, and more specifically about the difficulties involved in getting clear on which noun phrases should be classified as definite, or more properly, which have uses which can be so classified. A number of possibilities are considered. First we consider some traditional proposals—those analyzing definiteness in terms of strength, uniqueness, or familiarity. Following that, three more recent proposals are presented, which have been put forward in the wake of Montague’s analysis of NPs as generalized quantifiers—those proposed by Jon Barwise and Robin Cooper (1981), Barbara Partee (1986), and Sebastian Löbner (2000). The tentative conclusion is that Russell’s uniqueness characteristic (suitably modified) holds up well against the others.

Keywords: definiteness, uniqueness, familiarity, generalized quantifiers, definiteness criteria, existentials, partitives, semantic scope

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