w08b Proper names in object position must have an article

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    Proper names in object position

    To code for all possibilities, and for ease of the task, there are four property definitions for proper names in object position:

    can be 'bare', must have an 'article', can have an 'article', must have a 'special article'

w08_b: Proper names in object position must have an article

This property is set to 'yes' if proper names in object position must:

(i)    occur with an “article” (or, if the language doesn’t have article, a phonologically weak, deictically unmarked demonstrative).
(ii)   (for languages without articles but with classifiers, noun classes, case, adpositional endings…) exhibits no structural alternation with noun phrases containing a definite singular count noun.

[ More contexts]

Elicitation contexts

I invited John
I saw Mary

Additional instructions

  1. This property applies only to proper names (I saw Mary), not to definite singular count nouns (I saw the girl)
  2. Please, do NOT use kinship nouns (like mum, dad, …) to test this property
  3. The proper name must be unmodified (no adjectives, no possessors, no relative clauses, no other modifiers …)
  4. [ More contexts]
  5. If there is more than one object position in your language, test this property for each position.
  6. [ More contexts]
  7. If you notice any difference between affirmative and negative contexts (i.e. I saw John vs. I didn’t see John), please comment (or contact us).



Modern Greek is “yes” for this property. Proper names in object position must have the definite article.

(i) sinàntisa ton Jannis
meet.PST.1S the.ACC.SING John
I met John

They cannot be bare.

(ii) * sinàntisa Jannis
meet.PST.1S John
Intended: I met John


English is “no” for this property. Proper names in subject and object position are bare.

(i)     I met John

They cannot have an article.

(ii)    *I met the John

The following example does not lead to a “yes” setting:

(iii)   I met the John that you know


Italian is “no” for this property. Proper names in subject and object position do not need an article.

(i)     Ho incontrato Gianni
         I met John

Contributed by: Cristina Guardiano and Hilda Koopman
Language Value Contributor Comments
   Ancient Greek No Cristina Guardiano
   Armenian (Eastern) Yes Sona Haroutyunian
+ Basaa No Paul Roger Bassong
  Words: *Mɛ bí-náŋá í Ntɔɔgɛ
  Gloss: I PST2-invite DEF 1.PN
  Comment: The presence of the definite marker makes the sentence illicit
  Contributor: Paul Roger Bassong
   Calabrian (Northern) No Giuseppina Silvestri
   Cantonese (Guangzhou) No Zixian Qiu
   Cypriot Greek Yes Marios Andreou
   Danish No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Dida Lakota (diéko) No Gohon Fabienne Stéphanie Attéby
   Dutch No Hilda Koopman
   English No the property authors
   Faroese No Hjalmar Páll Petersen
   French No Hilda Koopman
   French (Ivorian) No Akpoué Josué
   Gothic No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Greek Yes Giorgos Spathas
  Words: Sinandis-a ton Jan-i.
  Gloss: meet-1.SG.PST.PFV DEF.SG.ACC John-SG.ACC
  Translation: I met John.
  Contributor: Giorgos Spathas
   Greek (Calabria) Yes Cristina Guardiano
+ Greek (Cappadocian) Yes Petros Karatsareas
  Words: traná páno so kaváx θorí to anastasía (Kostakis 1962: 181)
  Gloss: look.PRS.3SG SUP LOC.DEF.SG.ACC poplar_tree.SG.ACC see.PRS.3SG DEF.SG.ACC PN.SG.ACC
  Translation: he looks on the poplar tree and sees Anastasia
  Contributor: Petros Karatsareas
   Greek (Homer) No Cristina Guardiano
   Hebrew (Biblical) No Massimo Gargiulo
   Italian No Cristina Guardiano
   Italian (Reggiano) No Giovanni Roversi
   Korean No Shin-Sook Kim
   Kusaal No Hasiyatu Abubakari
   Latin No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Oluwanga (Eji) No Ceciliane Odangah
   Portuguese No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Romanian No Monica Alexandrina Irimia
   Russian No Nina Radkevich
   Sicilian No Cristina Guardiano
+ Spanish Yes Alejandro Rodriguez It must have some article--if we treat an article as a preposition (adposition), then the property follows
  Words: Conocí a Juan
  Gloss: met.PST.1SG to J.
  Translation: I met Juan
  Contributor: Alejandro Rodriguez
   Teramano No Iara Mantenuto
   Tupi (Ancient) No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Turkish Yes Sozen Ozkan
   Vietnamese No Jimmy Nguyen
   Wuhu Chinese No Zhuo Chen