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Uniqueness and maximality in German and Polish: A production experiment

Radek Šimík; Christoph Demian

According to a prominent hypothesis, word order manipulations in Slavic languages without articles can correspond to the use of definite or indefinite articles in languages that have them. We test this hypothesis using a production design in which participants build sentential picture descriptions from provided constituents. The crucial question is whether articles in German and word order in Polish are sensitive to visually depicted uniqueness or maximality of reference. We fail to find support for the article--word order correspondence; while the use of articles in German is sensitive to uniqueness/maximality, the use of word order in Polish is not.

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