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Detail of contribution

Auteur: Albert OOSTERHOF

Determiner drop in Dutch headlines

Abstract/Résumé: In a number of contexts, Dutch nominal constituents with a definite reading are not (necessarily) introduced by an overt article. The possibility to omit the article is subject to considerable geographical variation (cf. Oosterhof 2008a on article omission in Groningen dialects). In (varieties of) Standard Dutch, this phenomenon is restricted to a number of syntactic environments. In this respect, important work has been done in order to describe a number of relevant ‘constructions’, such as the feit is dat-construction (Hoeksema 2008) and the knife and fork-construction (studies by Heycock and Zamparelli, cf. also Oosterhof 2008b). My paper shifts the focus of investigation to pragmatically oriented variation in article omission, by studying article omissions in headlines of journalistic texts. The results of a corpus study of headlines in texts of different journalistic genres will be presented. It will be shown that within the genre of newspaper reports, articles occur only when they are part of a fixed lexical expression. Within the genre of in-depth reports, there is variation between deletion and retention of articles in headlines. In the analysis of the material some important semantic (and syntactic) variables will be coded, such as definiteness and the semantic interpretation of the article (generic/existential/definite-specific/ambiguous interpretation) and the type of construction in which the constituent occurs. Thus, the study sheds light on the interplay of different factors, like register variation and semantic diversity, predicting definite article omission. Furthermore, when interpreting results of corpus studies into article omission in headlines (cf. De Jonge 2008 for similar results), a distinction should be made between contexts in which article deletion would be possible in Standard Dutch as well and contexts in which article deletion is a characteristic typical of the register of newspaper headlines. In this way, constraints can be described in terms of constraints that are sufficiently tailored to the specific register at hand. Heycock, Caroline and Roberto Zamparelli. 2003. Coordinated Bare Definites. Linguistic Inquiry 34.3: 443-459. Hoeksema, J. (2000). ‘Verplichte topicalisatie van kale enkelvouden: de feit is dat-constructie.’ TABU 30: 113-142. Jonge, J. de (2008). Article omission in headlines and child language: A processing approach. (Dissertation Series 189.) Utrecht: LOT. Oosterhof, A. (2008a). ‘Deletie van het bepaald lidwoord in het Noord-Gronings.’ Taal en Tongval. Themanummer 21: 73-108. Oosterhof, A. (2008b). The semantics of generics in Dutch and related languages. (Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 122.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins.