Asymmetries between uniqueness and familiarity in the semantics of definite descriptions

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We provide experimental evidence in support of a theory of English definite descriptions that incorporates both uniqueness and familiarity components. We find that these components are not weighted equally; in particular, the effect of familiarity is weaker. Our results best support a hybrid theory of definiteness in the spirit of Farkas’ (2002) notion of determined reference where both uniqueness...

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