SDÁ 1-2008: Outi Kilpimaa

Nomengihpuid definihttavuođa dulkon davvisámegiel teavsttaid vuođul

Outi Kilpimaa (Sámi allaskuvlla dutkaninstituhtta)

Viečča artihkkala dás (pdf).

The interpretation of definiteness in North Sami texts

This paper examines the definiteness of noun phrases in North Sami on the basis of text examples. Whether a phrase is definite or indefinite in Sami depends largely on context. Interpretation of definiteness also relies on various determinants, word order and sentence type. A noun phrase is considered definite if the reader is able to recognise the referent of the phrase from the context. The referents are easiest to identify in specific, spatiotemporal contexts. However, it may still be necessary when the referent is first mentioned to consider to what extent recognition can be thought to be based simply on general knowledge and pragmatic conclusions. Although it is possible to recognise a referent on the basis of a previous mention, a referent can also be mentioned as a representative of a category or a species. In the case of plurals, the question of definiteness may remain open, unless a clear indicator can be found in the context for identifying the referent. Meanwhile, in the case of generic noun phrases, it is often enough that the reader can identify the semantic class that the phrase is referring to. These kinds of noun phrases can be interpreted as definite, and the definite/indefinite opposition seems to be neutralised.