|Title:||Reconceptualising the English Determiner Class||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Mariangela Spinillo||Update Dissertation|
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|Institution:||University College London, PhD in Modern English Language|
|Abstract:||This thesis is a defence of the hypothesis that the category of words known in the literature as determiners or determinatives is not a valid word class for English.
It is generally assumed that words such as the articles, the demonstratives, the possessives and the quantifiers (e.g. all, both, some, any, many, etc.) constitute the English determiner class. Most work on determiners, however, has been concerned mainly with their semantics and their function in phrase structure, and little has been said about the determiner class itself.
In this thesis I look at the makeup of the English determiner class and its significance as a form class for English. In the first chapter I provide a historical background of the various ways the words under investigation have been classed before they came to be grouped together as determiners. In the following three chapters I examine the determiner status of the various prenominal elements given as members of the class, and more generally, reconsider the status of determiner as a valid word class for English. I show that English determiners do not display a uniform categorial makeup, and argue that a unified determiner treatment of these elements is therefore not justified. Apart from the fact that they all occur in front of a noun, these words are rather different from one another, both in their semantics and in their syntax. I show not only that very few of the elements conventionally classed as determiners have the properties associated with the class, but also that the vast majority of these elements display properties which indicate that they belong to other classes. I argue that of the so-called determiners, only three, namely the articles 'the' and 'a(n)' and 'every', justify the postulation of the class for English. Thus I claim that the so-called determiner class in English is considerably smaller than suggested in the literature, and consists only of these three elements. Finally, and most importantly, I propose that since there is already a category available in the language which accounts for two of these words, namely 'article', this category be extended to include 'every', so that the category determiner can be disposed of.
In the final chapter I discuss how the analysis of the English noun phrase as NPs benefits from the re-categorisation proposed here.