The Study of the Article
The general interest in the article as a separate part of speech can be traced to the seventeenth century, when grammarians, who up until then had concentrated more or less exclusively on classical languages, turned to studying the vernacular languages of Europe. Up until this point the main reference for these scholars had been Latin, which, unlike Greek, is an articleless language. “Our language (Latin) does not need articles” says the first-century Roman grammarian Quintilian when comparing Latin with Greek (Lyons 1999, p. 48). Throughout the nineteenth century, the importance of Latin as the ultimate reference in the teaching of grammar is evident in most school grammars “one part of speech more than the Latin, namely, the ARTICLE” (Adam, 1818, p. 4). According to Chesterman (1991), Lowth (1762) was the first to recognize articles as a separate category. Grammarians used different terms to refer to them like “nominal note” and “particle”. As cited in Chesterman (1991), the term “article” is derived from the Greek “arthron”, which was used to denote the relative pronouns.
However, Christophersen (1939) remarks that “the origin of articles is obscure” (p.19). He examines the origins of the form from a different perspective and criticizes the theories that relate cultural maturity to the presence of articles. Other theories suggest that there is a relation between the possession of articles and geographical location. Hewson (1964) and Kaluza (1981) analyze the morpheme from a diachronic perspective. The article “the” is derived from the Old English demonstrative sē, and “a” from the numeral one. This change was gradual. In English, the articles are a subset of determiners (as discussed in the previous chapter), yet they do not “determine” in the same way as the other determiners, such as numerals, possessives, etc. do. For that reason, Hirtle (2009, p. 163) finds that they are “the most abstract of the determiners” as they are “distinguished by their degree of dematerialization”.
The research and studies following the contrastive approach give insight into the usage of articles and the understanding of the notion of definiteness. They shed light on how every language achieves definiteness and the tools they use to do so. To list some, Chesterman’s book On Definiteness: a Study with Special Reference to English and Finnish compares English, an article-possessing language, to Finnish, an articleless language. Another publication by Szwedek entitled Word order, sentence stress and reference in English and Polish (1976) compares diverse aspects of the language between English and Polish with a section about articles.
Articles and Incidence
Hirtle (2007a), like many linguists who are influenced by the French linguist Guillaume, looks at the relation among the words in an NP in terms of incidence. He uses the example an old tiger in his 2007 publication and a small dog in his 2009 publication as typical examples of an NP to explain this relation. The process of incidence passes through 6 stages as indicated in Figure . The first stage is relevant to the noun itself; a noun brings to mind “its import of comprehension formed by gender, number and case”. At this stage, “internal incidence” is achieved but “incidence to its own extensity” is yet to come. This is not achieved until “effecting” an article to the substantive. In the second stage, the adjective is added to the substantive, and not the other way around, because an adjective requires an outside support for its import – external incidence. As Guillaume (1990, p. 122) puts it: “every lexeme is an import of meaning which must find a support” (as cited in Hirtle 2007a, p. 208). Stage three is concerned with “effecting” the adjective old to tiger. This has more to do with “collocation”12. Hirtle (2007a) does not mention the process of collocation directly; he explains that the import of one or more adjectives is made incident to the import of the substantive if “the meaning complex is judged adequate as a representative of the experiential entity in the intended message” (p. 209). At this stage, old and tiger are seen as one entity “old+tiger”, as a single complex lexical whole.
In stage four, the psychogenesis13 of the article, an is added to “old tiger”. The article adds “additional notional content” as well as “formal support” to represent the extensity of the substantive. The article is needed to give the substantive an extensity to “make sense” of the noun phrase. Stage five is concerned with “effecting” the article an to oldtiger. Hirtle does not mention anything about this stage. One can speculate in reference to Quirk et al (1985) that it might be related to the compatibility of the article with the noun; that is, if the substantive is non-count, the “effecting” process with a/an cannot be implemented. Another speculation is related to the range of extensivity.
Approaching the Articles
The usage of articles by non-natives is not an easy task. The whole message communicated between the hearer and speaker sometimes depends on the choice of the article. For this reason, Kaluza (1981) calls for establishing a set of rules that explain the usage of each. A paradox about the articles in English is the fact that while presenting one of the most difficult problems to foreigners … they are never taught to the native speakers of English because of their obviousness. How do they acquire this knowledge? … The explanation that the articles come to them ‘by themselves’ as part of the English idiom is superficial because, except for fixed expressions, in the majority of cases they have to make some rational choice among the, a, or no article with a noun in its particular context… There must be few very simple rules governing the whole usage (p. 7). To investigate the idiosyncratic features of the articles, linguists approach them in different ways. Quirk et al (1997) start the analysis by distinguishing between “specific and generic reference” of articles. Then they survey the uses of each of the three articles first taking the criterion of the specific reference and then that the generic reference. Hirtle (2009) follows Quirk et al’s approach, but borrows Gustave Guillaume’s analysis based on incidence and extensity. On the other hand, Joly and O’Kelly (1991) start the analysis by identifying the Universal and Singular functions of the marked articles (a/an and the), which could be compared to Quirk et al’s “specific and generic” functions. Then they analyze each of the three articles independently.
Other linguists, like Chesterman (1991) and Hawkins (1978), approach the articles by choosing function as their main criterion. That is, they introduce the referential function, for example, and then, analyze how the three articles maintain deal with such a function. In this research, each of the articles will be dealt with separately. I will start with the article a/an, then continue with the article the, and end with the zero article.
Table of contents :
Part 1 – Literature Review
CHAPTER 1 DETERMINATION
1.1. THE DILEMMA OF DEFINITION
1.2. DEFINITION OF DETERMINATION
1.3. WHAT IS AN NP?
1.4. TYPES AND SEQUENCE OF DETERMINERS
1.5. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DETERMINER AND ADJECTIVE
CHAPTER 2 THE SYSTEM OF THE ARTICLE IN ENGLISH
2.1. THE STUDY OF THE ARTICLE
2.2. CLASSIFICATION AND DIVISION OF ARTICLES
2.3. ARTICLES AND INCIDENCE
2.4. THE DILEMMA OF DEFINITENESS
2.5. APPROACHING THE ARTICLES
CHAPTER 3 THE NOTION OF DEFINITENESS AND INDEFINITENESS IN ARABIC
3.1. DEFINITENESS ف ل IN THE ARABIC LANGUAGE
3.2. TRANSLITERATION / ROMANIZATION
3.3. PARTS OF SPEECH
3.4. INDEFINITENESS ل 95
3.5. WAYS TO ACHIEVE DEFINITENESS IN ARABIC
3.6. HIERARCHICAL LEVELS OF DEFINITENESS
Part 2 – Corpus Analysis
CHAPTER 4 THE METHODOLOGY AND THE CORPUS
4.1. METHODOLOGY OF THE ANALYSIS
4.2. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BROOK KERITH
CHAPTER 5 THE ANALYSIS OF THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THE CORPUS
5.1. THE INTRODUCTION OF THIS NARRATIVE
5.2. A DREAM
5.3. GOING TO THE HILLS
5.4. HIS SCRIBES
CHAPITRE 6 A COMPARATIVE COMPUTATIONAL STUDY
6.1. FREQUENCY COUNT OF THE ENGLISH SCRIPT
6.2. FREQUENCY COUNT OF THE ARABIC SCRIPT
6.3. CONTRASTING THE FUNCTIONS OF USING THE AND AL IN BOTH ENGLISH AND ARABIC
6.4. CONTRASTING THE USE OF A/AN IN ENGLISH TO THE ABSENCE OF AL IN ARABIC
6.5. FINDING THE CORRELATIVE FORM OF THE NOMINAL PHRASE IN ARABIC TO THE USE OF THE ZERO ARTICLE
6.6. ANSWERING THE RESEARCH QUESTIONS