We are happy to announce a talk by Klaus von Heusinger (Cologne) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talk will take place on campus in IG 4.301.

Title: Weak and strong definite articles in German and Evidentiality

Date: January 26

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct


German has a strong and a weak form of the definite article, which can be distinguished by their ability to merge with certain prepositions (strong: zu dem, weak: zum). The strong or full form is used in anaphoric and familiar contexts, and the weak or reduced form is used in contexts with a uniqueness condition (Ebert 1971, Schwarz 2009). The choice of one form in bridging contexts depends on the type of bridging: part-whole bridging contexts favor the weak form, and producer-product bridging prefer the strong form. We argue that the choice of the article form also depends on the way the speaker and hearer perceive the referent: if the referent is visible and touchable, the weak form is enhanced, while a less direct experience, say by auditive or pictural experience enhances the use of the strong from. Original data from an grammaticality judgement task partly support this hypothesis and provide new results with respect to the choice of the article from in bridging contexts in German.