DFG-funded network “Definiteness across domains”

This network addresses the topic of definite determiners in the nominal and clausal domain. In some languages, determiners used to mark definiteness are also found in clause-final position, e.g., in the backgrounded part of clefts, in relative clauses, and in adverbial clauses. This network brings together twenty researchers, some working on the compositional semantics and/or typology of nominal expressions, and others working on relevant topics in the clausal domain, in particular in languages with clausal determiners, e.g., Akan, Ga, Ewe (Kwa), Kusaal, Dagaare, Dagbani, and Buli (Gur).

The main focus of our network, which will be funded for the duration of three years (2022-2024), is on the compositional semantics of definite determiners, crosslinguistically, especially in under-researched languages. The main research questions are:

  • How is definiteness expressed across languages?
  • What is the meaning and use of definite descriptions in the nominal and clausal domain in a crosslinguistic perspective?
  • Is a unified analysis of definite descriptions in the nominal and clausal domain possible?

In order to address these questions, the network focuses on three main topics: (i) the compositional semantics of nominal definite determiners, (ii) definite interpretations of bare nouns, and (iii) the syntax and semantics of clausal definite determiners. Each of these topics will be discussed in two of our bi-annual meetings, beginning in summer 2022.