Print

Print


So "Russian, Japanese, and quite a lot of other languages" have no way to
signal the distinction between definite and indefinite? I find that hard to
believe. McWhorter refers simply to "fundamental features" of language; not
fundamental morphological categories, which is how many in this thread seem
to be reading it. A language may not have articles (the usual marker for
definiteness) but that doesn't mean that definiteness is not marked.

On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 2:51 AM, Peter Bleackley <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> staving Benct Philip Jonsson:
>
>> I just found an interesting list of syntactic
>> features deemed to be fundamental, in the sense
>> that they occur in all (or at least the vast
>> majority?) of human languages, as opposed to
>> "ornamental" features which may be more or less
>> useful but arise as a chance outcome of diacronic
>> change (I guess what Lass would call "making
>> things out of junk.
>> # a. Definite/indefinite opposition (possibly via
>> #    zero marking of one)
>>
>
> Not found in Latin, Russian, Japanese, and quite a lot of other languages.
> The first proposed universal on this list seems not to be one at all!
>
> Pete
>