Research Paper

Making a definite be interpreted as an indefinite


This paper proposes a novel analysis for the Basque definite determiner [-a] where it is argued, in opposition to other scholars (cf. Artiagoitia, 2002, 2006 where [-a] is argued to be a number marker when it gets the existential narrow scope interpretation), that the Basque definite determiner (despite its various interpretations) is just that, a definite determiner. Moreover, based on the behaviour of this element, this paper provides extra evidence in favour of the Neocarlsonian approach (cf. Chierchia, 1998b; Dayal, 2004) where the existential interpretation of bare nouns (BN) is shown to be dependent on the kind-level reading. This evidence should also be taken as proof against the so--called Ambiguity analysis (cf. Diesing, 1992; Kratzer, 1995; a.o.) or the Property-based approach to BNs, (cf. McNally, 1995; Laca, 1996; Dobrovie--Sorin & Laca, 2003) where BNs’ existential interpretation is argued to be non-dependent on any other reading. Furthermore, observing the different interpretations that the definite determiner can force in Basque – referential, kind, and existential –, this language is shown to be typologically in between English and French (as argued by Etxeberria, 2005).

How to Cite

Etxeberria, U., (2010) “Making a definite be interpreted as an indefinite”, Journal of Portuguese Linguistics 9(1), p.29-51. doi:







Urtzi Etxeberria (IKER (CNRS-Bordeaux3-UPPA) Gaztelu Berria, Paul Bert Plaza 15, Errobiko Kanpusa 64100 Baiona, Basque Country, France)



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