LINGUIST List 3.961

Sat 05 Dec 1992

Disc: Articles and Names

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  1. MANFRED KRIFKA, Articles and Names, German
  2. , Re: 3.932 articles and names
  3. mark, Names, intimacy, diminution, and pejoration

Message 1: Articles and Names, German

Date: 05 Dec 1992 15:50:32 -0600Articles and Names, German
Subject: Articles and Names, German

In a recent posting (3.947) the issue of definite articles in personal
names in southern German dialects came up. As a speaker of Bavarian I can
confirm that personal names (Christian names and Family + Christian names)
must be used with a definite article when referring to a person, e.g.
"da Hans", "da Maier Hans". In vocative use, as when calling a person,
they don't have articles. Dropping the article would be seen as a switch
to Standard German.
As for the gender, we find the grammatical gender. That means that with
diminutives we have neuter articles, as in "es Hansl", "es Gretl".
Admittedly, "die Gretl" is possible too, but then "Gretl" is not analysed
as diminutive in this case.
Perhaps the most interesting fact is that in Bavarian, as well as in many
other German and Frisian dialects, there are two kinds of definite
articles: a form A that is used for entities whose existence and uniqueness
is due to the precedeing text or the immediate situation, and a form B
that indicates that the entity is part of the general background knowledge.
For example, in a story about a king, a Bavarian would refer to the king
by "dea Kini", but speaking of the beloved Ludwig II, he would say "da Kini".
It is, of course, the B form that is used with personal names, as well as
with kind-referring NPs, such as in "da Schnaps is daia", "schnaps is
The best analysis of such an article system is Karen Eberts 1971 disser-
tation on Fering (a Frisian dialect), virtually unavailable outside
Germany. Other references: Karen Ebert, "Zwei Formen des bestimmten
Artikels", in D. Wunderlich, "Probleme und Fortschritte der Transfor-
mationsgrammatik", Munich 1971, and Hannes Scheutz, "Determinantien und
Definitheitsarten im Bairischen und Standarddeutschen", in P. Stein e.a.,
"Festschrift fuer Ingo Reifenstein", Goeppingen 1988.

Manfred Krifka, Austin
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Message 2: Re: 3.932 articles and names

Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1992 14:14 MST Re: 3.932 articles and names
From: <SCHWENUNMB.bitnet>
Subject: Re: 3.932 articles and names

Benji Wald inquired about the use of articles with names in Western
European languages. A Spanish dialect which I am extremely familiar with
uses such constructions as "el Juan" and "la Maria" nearly obligatorily.
In the dialect, that of Alicante, Spain, speakers intend no pejorative use
through the use of the article; rather, this is the normal way to refer to
third persons (especially if that person is not present for the conversation.
I have witnessed this use nearly categorically among lower-middle and middle-
class speakers, who do not find it nonstandard whatsoever.

Another interesting point is that Valencian and Catalan also use these
articles in the same manner as that described above. In fact, introductory
Valencian texts present this use as "standard." I noticed the last time
I was in Spain, that contestants on Catalan TV game shows are also referred
to by the use of article+name.

I have no explanation for this use. However, a Cuban colleague of mine
suggested that (in the Spanish case) it stems from the previous use of
"la senora Maria" and "el senor Juan" for reference to others. Indeed,
this usage continues in Alicante also.

Scott Schwenter
U New Mexico
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Message 3: Names, intimacy, diminution, and pejoration

Date: Wed, 02 Dec 92 10:15:28 ESNames, intimacy, diminution, and pejoration
From: mark <>
Subject: Names, intimacy, diminution, and pejoration

In 3.947, Benji Wald pointed out the connection between intimacy
and pejoration in the use of the definite article with names.
This connection also appears in the use of the 2nd person
singular familiar in French, where (I have been taught) it can be
insulting to "tutoyer" an adult stranger, but permissible or
normal to do so to a child whom you do not know. Has the
connection between intimacy, diminutive, and pejoration/insult
been studied?

 Mark A. Mandel
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
 320 Nevada St. : Newton, Mass. 02160, USA
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