Maria Kouneli — Determiner spreading

In many languages with overt determiners in the nominal domain, modification contexts can give rise to the occurrence of multiple instances of the determiner in a single DP. This is illustrated in the Greek example in (1), where each adjective may be preceded by a copy of the definite article. This phenomenon has been called Determiner Spreading (DS), polydefiniteness, and definiteness agreement/concord, among others, and it has received much attention in the literature, as it showcases an apparent mismatch between meaning and form: even though three definite articles are possible in DPs like (1), definiteness seems to be interpreted only once.

(1) to kokkino (to) ghrighoro (to) podhilato
the red the fast the bike
‘the fast red bike’

DS is attested in many language families (e.g. Semitic, Nilotic, Greek, Albanian), yet the phenomenon exhibits significant cross-linguistic variation, and there is a consensus that a unified analysis seems unlikely (e.g. Alexiadou 2014). For example, DS in Semitic languages is most often analyzed in terms of nominal concord for a definiteness feature, while DS in Greek has received various analyses which do not employ concord (e.g. in terms of a relative clause structure, close apposition, or nominal predication). In this course, we will look at the empirical landscape of DS (focusing both on general properties and case studies in individual languages), and we will review existing theories of the phenomenon. We will also discuss broader theoretical implications: what can DS teach us about the syntax of modification in particular and DP structure more generally?

The slides are available here.