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Definite article (omission) in British, Maltese, and other Englishes

Manfred Krug and Christopher Lucas EMAIL logo

Abstract

This article investigates factors that underlie the discrepancies in article omission between Maltese English (MaltE) and British English (BrE), with reference to further ENL, ESL and EFL varieties. We investigate seasons of the year, ordinal numbers, languages, proper nouns, titles, institutions and common nouns. Our sources include text corpora, and web and questionnaire-based data. Our key proposal is that MaltE has innovated a rule that the definite article may be omitted when the uniqueness or identifiability of a referent is salient in context. Furthermore, MaltE avoids the definite article commonly when the referent is generic rather than definite. The resulting MaltE system is regulated according to fewer parameters than in BrE, but more consistently.

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Appendix: Internet searches for in a/the/Ø majority of in ENL, ESL and EFL varieties in 2003 and 2017

Google searches January 2017
Region:United KingdomAustraliaUSAIndiaSingaporeSouth Africa
.uk%.au%.us%.in%.sg%.za%
in majority of17,0000.28%9,2100.22%17,3000.93%38,5000.75%2,8400.27%5,4100.19%
in the majority of5,380,00087.8%3,140,00074.2%1,030,00055.3%4,630,00090.4%935,00090.0%2,770,00095.8%
in a majority of734,00012.0%1,080,00025.5%816,00043.8%454,0008.9%101,0009.7%115,0004.0%
Sum6,131,000100.0%4,229,210100.0%1,863,300100.0%5,122,500100.0%1,038,840100.0%2,890,410100.0%
Google searches February 2003 (from Sedlatschek 2009: 210)
Region:United KingdomAustraliaUSAIndiaSingaporeSouth Africa
.uk%.au%.us%.in%.sg%.za%
in majority of5600.09%8320.46%5730.88%77937.82%829.57%950.37%
in the majority of574,00095.8%161,00088.1%49,20075.6%65331.7%67078.2%24,20095.0%
in a majority of24,9004.2%20,90011.4%15,30023.5%62830.5%10512.3%1,1704.6%
Sum599,460100.0%182,732100.0%65,073100.0%2,060100.0%857100.0%25,465100.0%
Region:MaltaNew ZealandRepublic of IrelandGermanyPolandChina
.mt%.nz%.ie%.de%.pl%.cn%
in majority of1440.27%2,5100.19%1,8000.17%20,8000.75%17,5001.31%4,9801.40%
in the majority of46,70087.8%999,00074.0%886,00083.9%2,270,00081.7%1,180,00088.2%141,00039.5%
in a majority of6,34011.9%348,00025.8%168,00015.9%488,00017.6%141,00010.5%211,00059.1%
Sum53,184100.0%1,349,510100.0%1,055,800100.0%2,778,800100.0%1,338,500100.0%356,980100.0%
Published Online: 2018-6-7
Published in Print: 2018-6-26

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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