LINGUIST List 7.111

Thu Jan 25 1996

Sum: Demonstratives

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  1. Maite Ezcurdia, Sum: Demonstratives

Message 1: Sum: Demonstratives

Date: Tue, 23 Jan 1996 14:57:28 CST
From: Maite Ezcurdia <>
Subject: Sum: Demonstratives
Summary on Demonstratives

On the 22nd of November 1995 I posted a query concerning the role of
"this" and "that" in complex demonstratives. I held the view that they
behaved as determiners, yet there seemed to be evidence from other
languages (for example, Haitian Creole) against this. My queries were
the following:

(i) whether there are any particular kinds of determiners that must
precede the "that", (ii) whether this applies to all complex
demonstratives, that is, also to those with a relative clause like
"that man who is standing there" or with a name like "that John",
(iii) whether this applies to bare demonstratives like "this" and
"that", (iv) whether it occurs in other languages besides Haitian
Creole, and (v) whether there are any accounts out there of the
grammatical role of "that" in those cases.

I received many responses to (iv) with evidence from different
languages either where "this" and "that" should always be preceded by
a determiner like a definite article, or where "this" and "that" could
be preceded by (or co-occur in the complex demonstrative with) a
determiner. In these cases it seemed that the demonstratives were
always accompanied by a definite article (versus other kinds of
determiners), giving thus some reply to worry (i), and there seemed
little objection to it applying to the cases cited in (ii). I also
received references to proposals where they are explained as
adjectives and not determiners - answering query (v). There was also
some evidence that seemed to point to the occurrence of bare
demonstratives with a determiner in some languages (in Omaha - a
Siouan language; the evidence comes from Catherine Rudin), hence
answering query (iii) and motivating some explanation to the presence
of definite articles in complex demonstrative phrases other than
assigning it an adjectival role. However, Schaufele's evidence from
Vedic Sanskrit on the possibility of an NP having two determiners,
still leaves open the possibility of treating the demonstrative
element in complex demonstratives as a determiner in its own right. So
the issue is stillopen.

Many thanks to all those who took the time to reply to my worries and
an apology for not having replied directly and for the very much
delayed summary. Oh, and an apology to all those who assumed (not an
unreasonable assumption) my having some command of Basque.

In what follows I reproduce (and translate when appropriate) the replies I

It seems to me that it is not uncommon to get Ds (definite articles of
sorts) and demontratives cooccurrig in some African languages. In
mandingo (a mande language spoken in West Africa) a tonal D is always
present when demontrative is : we have for instance

this woman = muso H nin
where: muso = wife
H = high tone = D
nin = demonstrative
(the high tone is finally attached to the syllable(s) on its left)
But when the demonstrative is a noun phrase by itself (without name or
noun or anything else) it can never cooccur with D:

nin bO-ra = this (one) came

but never

*nin H bO-ra

Here are some references:

The English Noun Phrase in its sentential aspect, by Steven Paul
Abney, unpublished (but notorious) Ph. D., Massachussetts Institute of
Technology (MIT), 1987.
Giuseppe Longobardi, Reference and proper names, in Linguistic Inquiry,
25.4, 1994
Giuseppe Longobardi, The syntax of Noun Phrases, Cambridge University
Press, 1991.

In Hungarian, a pro drop language, there are bare demons., EZ and AZ
(plus and minus proximate resp.).
But when the same words introduce headed NPs, an article (A before
consonant, AZ - again - before a vowel) is obligatory: ez a lecke /*ez
lecke 'this lesson'; az a lecke */az lecke 'that lesson'. The same is
true if the NP contains a relative clause relative (note furthermore
that the relative pronoun is built as follows: the article + the
interrogative pronoun): ez az ember, akit... 'this man, whom
(accusative)...' az az ember, akit... 'that man, whom (accusative)...'

I think that you are correct in your interpretation of the
demonstrative pronouns, that they are determiners in prenominal
position and NPs when occurring alone. The Slavic languages support
this view in several ways, i.e. in determiner positions _e`to_ 'this'
and _to_ 'that' (Russian) agree with the head N but when there is no
N, they revert to Neuter or refer deictically like personal pronouns,
which are NPs.
I came across an example which may interest you in Patricia Shaw's
dissertation, 'Theoretical Issues in Dakota Phonology and Morphology'
published by Garland Press in 1980. She gives the following example
from Dakota.

wic^has^a=ki ka' man=the that 'that man over yonder'

I suspect that there is another interpretation of _ka'_ that. I'm also
a firm believer in morphological multifunctionality.

In my paper Dryer, Matthew. 1992. "The Greenbergian Word Order
Correlations." Language 68: 81- 138.

(see pp. 120-122) I discuss languages in which demonstratives
modifying nouns co-occur with articles (citing Welsh and Dehu as
examples). I suggest that in such languages demonstratives are
grammatically adjectives rather than determiners. I can provide you
with information about other such languages if you are interested.

>From Jose Ugualde
Jose Ignacio correctly pointed out that the demonstrative can also
cooccur with the definite article in Spanish. For example, in aquel
hombre = el hombre aquel. "that man" = "the man that"

For an analysis on these facts he suggests having a look at Hernanz
and Burcart. He also points to some evidence in a Bizcaian (a Basque
dialect) where there are cases where the demonstrative precedes the
noun and co-occurs with the article or annother suffixed copy of the
demonstrative as in ori lagun-a lit. "that friend the" ori lagun-ori
lit. "that friend that"

>I was recently told that in Haitian Creole "that" in complex
>demonstratives like "that
>house" must be preceded by a determiner.
You might also look at the Celtic languages, where 'demonstratives'
function as np's (as in English) and as a type of adjective (rather
than determiner) - i.e. they follow the noun they modify (like
adjectives and unlike determiners) and the definite article is also
required (unlike normal adjectives, which can also modify indefinite

I wonder (i) whether there are any particular kinds of determiners
that must precede the "that",
In the Celtic languages, always the definite article. There is a rare
archaic construction in Welsh where a personal pronoun is used instead
of the definite article, e.g.

fy ngeiriau hyn, lit. my words these, 'these words of mine'

This may be a calque on Latin, used in old translations of Latin texts.

(ii) whether this applies to all complex demonstratives, that is,
also to those with a relative clause like "that man who is standing
there" or with a name like "that John",

(iii) whether this applies to bare demonstratives like "this" and "that",
No in Welsh, Irish & Scottish Gaelic, Manx; Breton has separate sets
of lexical items for nominal and adjectival use.

>(iv) whether it occurs in other languages as well, and
Welsh, Breton, Irish & Scottish Gaelic, Manx.
(v) whether there are any accounts out there of the grammatical role of
"that" in those

T. Arwyn Watkins ("Ieithyddiaeth", 1961) and S. J. Williams (in
"Elfennau Gramadeg Cymraeg", 1959) both simply describe nominal and
adjectival uses, though they disagree on the classification of

In both ancient and modern Greek, demonstratives like "this" and
"that" do take determiners, although in an idiosyncratic way. Here are
some examples from modern Greek.

"a house"

kokino spiti
red house
"a red house"

*afto spiti
this house

*spiti afto
house this

to spiti
the house

to kokino spiti
the red house

to spiti to kokino
the house the red
"the red house" (emphatic)

afto to spiti
this the house
"this house"

to spiti afto

the house this
"this house" (emphatic)

*kokino to spiti
red the house

*to afto spiti
the this house

*to spiti kokino
the house red

afto to kokino spiti
this the red house
"this red house"

to kokino spiti afto
the red house this
"this red house" (emphatic)

afto to spiti to kokino
this the house the red
"this red house" (emphatic)

"emphatic" typically means that the house is being distinguished from
some other house.

With regard to your question about demonstratives and determiners in
Haitian Creole, this may be tangentially relevant. In Vedic Sanskrit,
and to some extent in Sanskrit generally, it is possible for an NP to
have two determiners. This is discussed to some extent in my 1988
paper `Where's my NP? Non-Transformational Analyses of Vedic
Pronominal Fronting' (Studies in the Linguistic Sciences
18.2:129-162). What it comes down to is this: An NP can control (for
purposes of morphological agreement) anywhere from 0 to 2 determiners,
these being in the form of demonstrative, interrogative, or relative
pronominals; however, there seem to be some (semantic?) constraints on
the stem(s) used for the 2nd determiner, if it exists. Specific
choices of stem for the 2nd determi- ner have definite semantic
repercussions, though i have never worked those out precisely. Apart
from these semantic considerations, there is never any *syntactic*
obligation for an NP to have 2 determiners, or even one. A third
determiner is never attested in the corpus. In order to allow the
grammar to generate a second determiner without generating an
unlimited number of them, I had to define a `2nd determiner' function,
without being able to specify precisely what its function was.

In Omaha (a Siouan language), demonstratives often occur with a
determiner, both when alone and when combined with noun or clause in a
more complex phrase:

1. Ga akha
that the
'That one'

2. Ga akha nuzhinga akha
that the boy the
'That boy'

I'm not sure about conditions under which this occurs, but it does
occur with both names and relative clauses. I think the demonstratives
are NP (or DP) and constructions like (2) are appositives (two
coreferential NPs or DPs)...

The co-occurrence of demonstratives with (other) determiners also
occurs in Hungarian, and is probably not that unusual. In other words,
their complementary distribution may be a feature of Indo-European
languages which doesn't generalize much further. In Hungarian you
have: ez "this", az "that" (as pro-NPs) ez a gyerek "this child", az a
gyerek, etc. this the child that the child

ez a gyerek, aki...
this the child who... "this child who..."

I'm not sure what this means for the structure of NP. Anna Szabolcsi has
written several papers on Hungarian NP structure which probably deal with
this. One possibility is that the demonstrative is in Spec, DP while the
article is a functional head, D.

I am writing in answer to your question on the LINGUIST list about
demonstratives, with some information about Welsh, Greek, Yiddish,
Hebrew, Polynesian, colloquial Spanish, and the Bizkaian dialect of
I don't know how many other replies you have had to your query, but I
imagine you have now heard about numerous languages which regularly,
or at least sometimes, use a demonstrative together with a determiner
within a noun phrase.
I have found examples of such in the above languages, representing a
quick sample of some of the languages which I have some familiarity as
a linguist. My conclusion is that such constructions are probably
common among the world's languages.
Here then is a brief survey of the instances I can think of:

In Welsh the pattern for NPs containing a noun and a demonstrative is:
Article + Noun + Demonstrative
y dyn hwn
the man this

When the NP consists only of a demonstrative element, there is usually
no article, e.g. hwn this

but this is not true when the demonstrative element hyn (which is
"neuter" in about the same way as Castilian ello, aquello etc.) stands
as the head of a relative clause, e.g. yr hyn a welais the that REL
I.saw "that which I saw", "lo que vi"

As far as I know the only determiner that may co-occur with
demonstratives is the definite article (y, yr).

The usual pattern for NPs containing a noun and a demonstrative
in Greek is: Demonstrative + Definite Article + Noun

(see any grammar for details).

Yiddish has two ways of saying "this/that man". One is to use the same
determiner which functions as definite article but stress it; it then
has a demonstrative value:

der mAn
the man

dEr mAn
this/that man

(where I use capitalized vowels to indicate stress). Secondly, you can
make the demonstrative notion more explicit or emphatic by
incorporating into the NP a special attributive demonstrative form; in
this case the definite article is used, e.g.

der dOziker mAn

the this man
"this man"

For a demonstrative without a noun, the simpler kind of demonstrative is
used, e.g.

"this one", "este"

"this", "esto"


The most common pattern in Hebrew to express "this man" includes the
definite article (prefix ha-), which is affixed to both the noun and
the demonstrative in that order:

ha- ish ha- ze
the-man the-this
"this man"

although there exists an alternative construction without the
article. The repetition of ha- is not surprising within Hebrew as
there is similar repetition in other kinds of complex NP, e.g. with
attributive adjectives:

ha- ish ha- tov
the-man the-good
"the good man"

ha- ish ha- tov ha- ze
the-man the-good the-this
"this good man"

For NPs containing no noun, the demonstrative is not accompanied by a


"this" ("este" or "esto")

There is variation among the Polynesian languages as to just how NPs
with a demonstrative are constructed, but there is a common pattern
that goes: Article + Noun + Demonstrative

e.g. Tongan

te tangata ni
the man this
"this man"

and Hawaiian

ke keiki nei
the child this
"this (dear) child"

This pattern is used normally in Tongan and some other languages,
whereas in Hawaiian it has affective overtones (hence "dear") and can
even be used with a proper name in which case there is no article:

Hawai'i nei
"(our beloved) Hawaii)"

In Hawaiian the usual demonstrative construction has the demonstrative
element placed between the article and the noun and morphologically
fused with the former, e.g.

ke- ia kanaka
the-this person
"this man"

To say just "this" (no noun head), the fused form incorporating the
article is again used:

"this (one)"

and similarly in other Polynesian languages. In these languages I
would suggest that the demonstrative items are not per se determiners.

In colloquial Spanish one can hear things like:

el hombre este

besides the more normal

este hombre

In most dialects of Basque demonstratives function as determiners and do
not co-occur
with an article; compare:

man -Article
"the man"

gizon hau
man this
"this man"

gizon hura
man that
"that man"

*gizon-a hau
*gizon-a hura

However, the Bizkaian dialect of Basque has another construction in
which the demonstrative precedes the noun instead of following it, and
then the noun takes an article:

a gizon-a
that man -Article

Etymologically it seems that the article -a and the modern Bizkaian
demonstrative a "that", "aquel(lo)" have the same origin, so that
gizon-a "the man" was originally gizon a "that man". Furthermore,
other demonstrative-like forms can also sometimes be used asa
articles, e.g.

man -Article
"the man (here)"

cf. gizon hau above. Now, in Bizkaian "this man" can be:

au gizon-au
this man -Article

although you can also find:

au gizon-a

I hope this has been useful!

From: () [Sorry but no name came with the message]

Hungarish has the peculiar feature that "az" and "ez" ("that" and
"this") in the commonest usage forego the definite article ("a", "az",
derived from "az" "that"), as if in English one said not "that box"
but "that the box": az a doboz It is further of interest that all
suffixes and postpositions that follow the noun or last adjective also
follow "az"/"ez", even though in all other cases the suffix or
postposition follows onlie the last word of the NP: a kicsi dobozt
(acc) a kicsi dobozzal -- with the little box a kicsi doboz mellett --
beside the little box azt a kicsi dobozt (acc) azzal a kicsi dobozzal
- with that little box amellet a kicsi doboz mellett -- beside that
little box a kicsivel -- with the little one azzal a kicsivel -- with
that little one --the same for "ez".

Besides "az" and "ez" there are also "azon" and "ezen", which just so
behave as the English
"that" and "this", but are much, much seldomer used.

- ---------------------------------------------------
Maite Ezcurdia
Instituto de Investigaciones Filosoficas
Ciudad Universitaria
Mexico D.F. 04510
tel. (525) 6227208
fax. (525) 6654991
 (525) 6227427
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