En réponse à John Cowan <[log in to unmask]>: > > > In French it's nearly the > > same, except that the article is replaced by the demonstrative 'ce', > which per > > se doesn't really demonstrate much ;))) > > As I have been saying, "ce" has moved into the definite article slot, > replacing > "le" which has become the semantically null article. > I disagree on that. "le" is still far from semantically null. If you consider it that way because it's used with generalities and abstractions, where English and other languages use no article at all, then you're wrong about the semantics of generalities in French. After all, if you think about it carefully, what's more definite than a generality? It's defined by its very enunciation! When you talk about the abstraction "peace", you are talking about something which is well known beforehand, something which is everything but indefinite. The semantics may be vague, but not the definition. So in that sense generalities and abstractions are pretty well definite by themselves, and thus are marked in French with the definite article, since definition needs to be always overly marked, hence "la paix". "Le" stays a definite article, with just more use than English "the" since English doesn't need to mark for definition things that are already defined by their very enunciation. "Ce", on the other hand, is still too strong to be considered a definite article. More than marking definition, it's a strong anaphoric (rarely cataphoric), a bit like is, ea, id in (Classical) Latin. In fact, I'll agree that "ce" can be considered an article working on the scale of definition, but I disagree that it's just a definite article and that "le" has lost meaning. Rather, I'd argue that French doesn't have two but three levels of definition: indefinite, definite and restrictive, since "le" is used to mark something that has been defined somehow, while "ce" is used to point out one among comparable things that have been defined earlier (and thus still has some demonstrative meaning). It can also be used where just the definite article would be enough, but then it has an emphatic meaning, or it is used after a digression to put back the topic on what was discussed before the digression. All those uses are much too strong to consider "ce" only as a definite article (indeed, in English demonstratives are used for most of them). And note that all I've been saying is about Spoken French, like I speak it and have heard it spoken by everyone I know, whether of my age or not. Maybe "ce" is on the road to become a simple definite article, and "le" on the road of becoming a "null" article, but they aren't quite there yet. If it's so, I'd say two generations at least will be needed to change it (since even the French children I've heard use "ce" and "le" as I described - in fact, I often hear "le" used nearly as a demonstrative by children -). Christophe. http://rainbow.conlang.free.fr Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.