While d, as a voiced coronal stop, is a rather ordinary almost boring speech sound (cf. English duh), d qua morpheme in German is, when looked at the right way, perhaps the most intriguing and insight-granting single grammatical ele- ment in human language discovered to date. This mini-course is about what makes me think so. In particular, I argue that it is this one morpheme d that we find in the seemingly distinct morphosyntactic environments of der ‘the’, dieser ‘this’, jeder ‘every’, dass ‘thatC ’, and that its syntactic properties are pivotal in understanding aspects of (i) V2 and (ii) the weak/strong adjectival declension alternation. The latter point has important consequences for our understanding of dative and genitive morphology. The former point gives a meaning to the -finite in definite, leading us to think about the relevance of d in the German tense system. This in turn may have consequences for the analysis of verbal inflection.
This d being basically the definite article, its traditional terminological companion would be ein, the indefinite article. But the two are about as good a natural pair as the Sun and the Moon. Yet, just like d, ein too is morphosyntactically implicated in the formation of a number of determiners. Time permitting, we will thus complement the discussion of d-determiners with some discussion of derivations involving ein.