The Morphology, Syntax and Semantics of Definite Determiners in Swiss German
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In Swiss German there are three paradigms for the determiner ‘the’: a weak article, a strong article and a proximal demonstrative. The aim of this paper is to show that these three paradigms not only differ with respect to their morphological form, but also with respect to their semantic function and their syntactic structure. Based on several Swiss German data corpora there is evidence for a strong correlation between morphology, semantics, and syntax. I will demonstrate that every paradigm has its prototypically semantic function. The weak article is used in inherent unique contexts, the strong article shows up in anaphoric contexts, and the demonstrative is used in deictic contexts. However, some cases seem to challenge the correlation established in the analysis, particularly modification structures with relative clauses. Yet, I shall show that the use of articles in these cases follows its own strictly semantic rules. To meet the semantics syntax correlation, I put forward the idea that every paradigm has – due to its particular feature structure – its own syntactic projection. Hereto, a semantic-syntactic analysis is proposed in which the semantic-syntactic features of the three paradigms are accommodated by assuming three functional categories in the nominal phrase for the features in question, i.e. [DEF] for definiteness, [ANAPH] for anaphoricity, and [Dx] for deixis.