Coordination as a factor in article usage

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In the section on the use of articles with common nouns, A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Quirk et al. 1985, CGEL henceforth; pp. 265-288) presents a passage on the zero article with definite meaning (5.41- 5.51, pp. 276-281), illustrated by different classes and uses of countable singulars. Among these, a mention is made of coordinated nouns, such as husband and wife, which are subsumed under the heading of parallel structures like arm in arm, face to face, from father to son, etc.
Other writers (Chesterman 1991.45-47, Yotsukura 1970.68, Dušková 1997) confine the use of the term zero article to plural nouns and uncountable singulars, whereas the absence of an overt determiner with countable singulars is treated as determination of a different kind, and hence denoted by a different term (‘null’ by Chesterman, ‘no article’ by Yotsukura). In Dušková (1997), following CGEUs treatment of parallel structures (p. 280), a third type of a lacking overt determiner is distinguished, viz. instances in which the noun loses its independent nominal status, and consequently its substantival categories. This is often the case of nouns with adverbial function, notably those with the semantic role of means, like go by bicycle, communicate by letter. Recognition of a different nature of the absent overt determiner with countable singulars is largely based on the type of reference expressed by the respective noun phrase: whereas plural nouns and uncountable singulars with zero article express either nongeneric indefinite or generic reference, the reference of countable singulars with ‘null’ article is nongeneric definite. Actually, in many instances ‘null’ alternates with the definite article (cf. (the) Archduke Ferdinand, Lake Michigan / the river Thames). In the third type (nouns with adverbial function) the question of definiteness does not arise insofar as the noun categories are largely lost (compare e.g. the English prepositional phrases on foot, on horseback with the corresponding adverbs pěšky, koňmo in Czech).
In the present paper, attention is paid to countable singulars in coordination, which are also sometimes found without an overt determiner, cf. exx (1) and (2).
(1) Father and son were inseparable.
(2) Such a contrast between brother and sister is surprising
(Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 1992, ‘contrast’)
The question to be considered is whether coordinated countable singulars can be identified with the types distinguished for single countable singulars without an overt determiner, or whether they display features specific to, and resulting from, the coordinate structure.


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