The work is devoted to the cognitive aspect of articles in modern English. Despite the widespread use of the so-called “zero article” and an increase in cases of stylistic disuse of positive articles, which allowed some linguists to talk about the gradual disappearance of this grammatical category in modern English, English articles remain the most important element of communication in this language. The paper shows that this turned out to be possible due to the peculiarities of the historical development of the category of articles in the English language, as a result of which these official words received a special cognitive load. The article studies various areas of the cognitive load of positive articles in modern English at the level of word, utterance and text, examines the new status of the definite and zero articles using the example of cases that in classical works on the English article have always been interpreted as exceptions or as preserved elements of old uses. The author notes the great emotional and semantic role of the opposition of the definite and zero articles, its new influence on the entire system of articles as a whole on the effectiveness of communication and the transfer of the necessary meaning at the level of words, statements and text. The paper draws attention to the need to study the new function of English articles as special emotional markers of discourse. In conclusion, it talks about the emerging tendencies of strengthening the position of this category in modern English.
Keywords: Articlecognitive sciencedeixisdiscourseemotionalitymarker
Articles in English, as you know, refer to grammatical words - service words that serve in this language as a grammatical determinant of a noun or indicate the nominative character of a whole group of words (Hawkins, 1991). There are well-known examples of substantivating adjectives and participles, where the grammatical indicator (determinant) of a substantivized adjective with a generalized meaning is the definite article:
The emergence of the "zero article", i.e. its significant absence is a unique feature of the historical development of the English language (Shaklein et al., 2019). In other related languages of the Indo-European group, where the restructuring of the grammatical system from the inflectional form to the analytical form also contributed to the emergence of a new category of service words (Tymchuk & Krasikova, 2018), it is difficult to talk about the existence of a "zero article". Despite all attempts to introduce the concept of "zero article" into the grammar of these languages, it is rather a stylistic or syntactic ban on the use of one of the positive articles - the definite article or the indefinite article (Tymchuk, 2005). In English, the zero article is a full member of the article category. It reflects the linguistic mentality and vision of the world that are characteristic of the English language community.
The use of the zero article is not always associated in English with the meaning of abstraction and generalization. For example, it is poorly suited for those cases where there are peculiar "fluctuations" in the choice of a definite or zero article, and deviations from the "norm" are often interpreted as exceptions. We are talking, for example, about the names of countries or the names of diseases, where the variability in the choice of the article may be associated with a special understanding and emotional vision of reality. Consequently, during the study, the following questions naturally arose:
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to show the uniqueness of the article system in the English language in cognitive terms and the possibility of their use in terms of mental and emotional representation and highlighting objects of reality.
The work uses general linguistic research methods: a descriptive method, including internal and external interpretation of the meaning of a word in the context of a sentence, a method of discourse analysis, as well as elements of diachronic and synchronic research.
In contrast to the Spanish language, in the English language the appearance of a significant absence of one of the positive articles was associated with the appearance of the meaning of generalization, abstraction from a specific object, person or subject of thought. This means its inclusion in the world of the speaker, which is as an important, significant entity, or its exclusion from the world close and familiar things of the speaking person. The definite article, as the most significant member of the categorical opposition of articles in terms of semantic load, acquired the meaning of indicating the certainty of the subject of thought and speech, which, first of all, was interpreted as belonging to the speaker, to his world of things and concepts (Katermina et al., 2019).
There is no doubt that the reason for the increase in the importance of the mental dichotomy “own” – “alien” was the economic changes that took place in the English-speaking society of the specified period. The understanding of the personal belonging of things, which is characteristic of any human collective during the period of the separation of an individual as a significant element of this society, was transformed during this period into an understanding of private property. That is the exclusive right to own an object, the right to use a material or intellectual object or objects obtained on the basis of sale and purchase.
Another example of such a “perception” of the definite article is its use with the geographical name
For the same reason, there is a change in the use of articles and a shift towards the choice of the zero option with the names of those countries where historically, for various reasons, the definite article was used
Another thing is when the territory in question is not a separate state and is historically perceived as a separate area of a single whole, for example,
Along with other members of the nominative group, the article, as a word that defines a noun and indicates its nominative function in a sentence in English, has undergone the form changes above described. Unlike, for example, German, which has various forms of case, gender and number of definite and indefinite articles, English positive articles have only one form, devoid of differences in case and gender. The nominative function of English articles, i.e. their ability to indicate that a word is a noun turned out to be in demand only when it was necessary to indicate the substantiation of an adjective or participle. In all other cases, it is redundant, since the nominative character of a word or a combination of words is determined in modern English by their place and function in a sentence and utterance.
Under these conditions, the semantic features of the use of both positive articles came to the fore, one of which comes, as shown in comparative historical works, from the weakened demonstrative pronoun
Simultaneously with the change in the mental picture of the world, there are changes in linguistic forms, which are adapted and adjusted to what needs to be expressed in a given society (Tymchuk, 2005). The loss of gender and case forms in official defining words - articles, which began in the Middle English period due to the merger of two languages with a different grammatical system, made it possible to oppose semantically loaded positive articles to their significant absence - the "zero article". Unlike other languages with articles, where there was no radical disappearance of forms of gender and case, and the so-called "zero article", i.e. its similarity, was associated mainly with syntactic and stylistic prohibitions on its use, the English language received the opposition of positive articles and their meaningful absence. Now the use of articles was not limited to syntactic constructions or features of discourse, but directly depended on their semantics (Besedina, 2019).
Let us show this using the example of the use of the definite and zero articles when indicating various diseases in English. It is known that modern English interprets this use ambiguously. English names for such formidable diseases as cancer, diabetes, pneumonia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, heart stroke, despite the seriousness and danger of these diseases for humanity, are never singled out emotionally, for example, with the help of the definite article. At the same time, some diseases are always used with the definite article:
“ …is through hand contact such as shaking hands and touching surfaces such as doorknobs and elevator buttons that someone with
This last example makes the difference in the attitude of the English-speaking world to colds and flu especially clear. Although everyone knows that an ordinary cold can lead to death and serious complications of an individual's health, this disease in the minds of an English-speaking society is never labeled as
In this regard, it is of interest how the modern English-speaking society perceives a new virus, the coronavirus, which has caused a new pandemic. Here are some examples:
“After the news that Prince Charles has tested positive for
“The UK’ Prince Charles has tested positive for
“Prince Charles has tested positive for
It should be noted that although we have given examples with only the definite article. There are many examples of the use of the word
It is clear that subsequent events will show the validity of the use of the definite article with the name of the plague of the 21st century -
“A man who does not know if he has been vaccinated or had
“Men who are at risk for contracting
The use of the definite article is most likely due to the fact that the modern English-speaking world witnessed horrific measles epidemics among American soldiers during the Korean War 1950-1953 (Rothfeld & Romaine, 2005). However, it can be assumed that since these tragic events were generally local in nature, and the creation of a vaccine reduced the danger of contracting this disease to nothing, a neutral attitude towards the disease appeared in the English-speaking society, which was immediately reflected in the linguistic norm. The prevailing use of zero article with the word
In conclusion, we note that these features of the definite article testify to the new role of this defining word in modern English. In addition to the original function of a grammatical determinant, characteristic of all Western European languages, the article in English received the function of an emotional marker of a noun. In this sense, it restores what was characteristic in diachrony of a weakened demonstrative pronoun in ancient Germanic languages, and expands the function of an emotional marker further to the level of utterance and text. This development is motivated with the ancient semantics of the predecessor of the definite article - a weakened demonstrative pronoun, which, as evidenced with diachronic studies, was the most important marker of the emotionality of a poetic text in the ancient German epic, since it reflected the subjective, author's perception of events and heroes.
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27 May 2021
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Culture, communication, history, mediasphere, education, law
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Tymchuk, E., & Krasikova, M. (2021). Article In Modern English Communication In A Cognitive Aspect. In E. V. Toropova, E. F. Zhukova, S. A. Malenko, T. L. Kaminskaya, N. V. Salonikov, V. I. Makarov, A. V. Batulina, M. V. Zvyaglova, O. A. Fikhtner, & A. M. Grinev (Eds.), Man, Society, Communication, vol 108. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 328-335). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.05.02.39