definite article incompatible with the plural

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Sun Aug 4 20:42:14 UTC 2013

Numeral classifiers in Vietnamese and Cantonese may come close to what 
you are looking for.  In these languages, a NP may consist entirely of 
classifier plus noun, ie. with no numeral or other modifier present.  
Such constructions are generally interpreted as being singular and 
definite.  Of course, if you add a numeral than the NP is no longer 
singular or definite, so this is may not be exactly what you are after, 
but there is some affinit ...  Of course, it may seem strange to apply 
the term "article" to a "classifier", but then what is an article, really?

On 04/08/2013 21:49, Sergey Lyosov wrote:
> Dear all,
> Do we know of languages that have a definite article restricted to the 
> singular of the noun? That is, do we know of a definite article that 
> is incompatible with the plural?
>  Sergey

David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at

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