The Definite and Indefinite Articles of Spanish (or Castilian) Language in Context

  • Sonia Montero Gálvez Columbia University
Keywords: Article, Definiteness, Indefiniteness, Inclusive and Exclusive Reference, Context, Cognitive Linguistics

Abstract

The present paper addresses the contrast between the definite article (el/la/los/las) and the indefinite article (un/a/os/as) from a cognitive approach that not only poses a single meaning for each kind of article, but also highlights the pragmatic (or contextual) aspects that underlie that meaning and establish the use of one form or another. The article’s meaning is shaped by the way we conceptualize the reference: the definite article implies an inclusive reference characterized by the uniqueness of the referent, while the indefinite article implies an exclusive reference characterized by the lack of uniqueness. The possibility to choose one or other way depends on contextual aspects related to the common knowledge shared by the interlocutors, the communicative context (linguistic and situational) and the space (physical or mental) where the referent is located.

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Published
2019-01-18
How to Cite
Montero Gálvez, S. (2019). The Definite and Indefinite Articles of Spanish (or Castilian) Language in Context. Verba Hispanica, 26(1), 99-127. https://doi.org/10.4312/vh.26.1.99-127
Section
Linguistics