Syntax Interface Lectures Utrecht


4 April 2019
16:00 - 17:00
Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, room 1.06 (Ravensteynzaal)

Bert Le Bruyn (Utrecht University)

Translation Mining: definiteness in German and Mandarin

(joint work with David Bremmers, Jianan Liu and Martijn van der Klis)


In this presentation we show how Translation Mining (van der Klis et al. 2017) cannot only be used for its original purpose – comparing tense/aspect systems – but can also be insightfully applied to the domain of referentiality. We look into how the uniqueness/anaphoricity dimension Schwarz (2009) and Jenks (2018) argue to be at play in the marking of definiteness in German and Mandarin can be investigated by comparing translations of the first Harry Potter volume. We will show how – by and large – Schwarz’s and Jenks’s analyses make correct predictions for German but fail to account for Mandarin. We conclude with the beginnings of an analysis for the latter.



Jenks, P. (2018). Articulated definiteness without articles. Linguistic Inquiry, 49(3), 501-536.

Van Der Klis, M., Le Bruyn, B., & De Swart, H. (2017). Mapping the perfect via translation mining. In Proceedings of the 15th Conference of EACL (Vol. 2, pp. 497-502).

Schwarz, F. (2009). Two types of definites in natural language. UMass Dissertation.