The definite article in Spanish as a polysemous category

Year
2017
Volume 18
Issue 3
Pages
255-299
Authors
Anastasia Khain
Abstract
The present paper investigates the semantic structure of the definite article in Spanish, traditionally characterized as meaningless, from a Cognitive Linguistics perspective. After a brief overview of the role of the definite article as an element of the Spanish grounding system, it will be argued that the category of the definite article is polysemous, has radial structure, and it is organized around prototypical centres. It will be demonstrated how the senses, which are motivated by family resemblances and interrelated through categorizing relationships of elaboration and extension, are linked in a polysemy network. Moreover, it will be held that the various senses of the de nite article constitute a continuum, since expressions grounded by the de nite article can run the gamut from pro ling a unique entity of the type to denoting the whole class of entities.
Keywords: cognitive linguistics, cognitive grammar, article, de nite, article, Spanish, polysemy, network, metonymy, family resemblance