Article selection and anaphora in the German relative clause

Julian Grove, Emily Hanink


German definite articles are able to contract with prepositions under certain conditions. When a noun phrase is discourse anaphoric, contraction is blocked. In the current paper we present a puzzle: restrictive relative clauses require the use of the non-contracted (strong) article form, despite their apparent lack of anaphoricity; both the determiner of the head noun and the relative pronoun (which is, in most cases, syncretic with the definite article) surface with the strong form. We provide a uniform analysis of discourse anaphoric and relative clause uses that makes use of contexts, as defined in the dynamic framework of de Groote (2006). We argue that a lexical item, which we call “anaph”, whose purpose is to make reference to an individual provided by the context, intervenes between the noun and the article in the strong form. anaph makes reference to an individual provided by the global context in cases of anaphora, and to an individual provided by an updated local context in the case of relative clauses.

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