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date: 20 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The semantic–pragmatic category ‘specificity’ is used to describe various semantic and pragmatic contrasts of indefinite noun phrases. This chapter will first provide a brief illustration of different linguistic means to express these contrasts in different languages. Second, it will categorize different types of specificity according to the semantic and pragmatic contexts in which they can be found. The standard tests for these different kinds of specificity are also discussed. In the third section a comparison is made between four families of theoretical approaches to specificity and the chapter concludes with the notion that specificity can be best understood by ‘referential anchoring’.

Keywords: indefinite noun phrases, specificity, referential anchoring, semantic–pragmatic, partitivity

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