The zero article is a staple element of any description of English article usage from advanced research publications down to student grammars, but there has been very little inquiry into its meaning and its other properties. There are copious amounts of publications dealing with the definite and indefinite articles but ne about the zero article. Berezowski investigates the origin of the concept of the zero article and shows that it has roots both in structural linguistics of the 1940s and earlier historical linguistics. Structural linguists went on to claim that, since the use of articles in English is deemed 'obligatory', the zero article exists but it has overt form. Looking through earlier attempts at analyzing the meaning of the zero article, from Jespersen to Chesterman, Berezowksi shows how they all fail. An answer to theoretical problems of grammaticalization are developed; it is shown that English articles have t yet reached a stage in their development where their use has spread to all grammatical environments. Thus, a model is developed for determining when there is article in English. The new model is tested against a commonly occurring case of zero article, using a corpus-based approach. The Myth of the Zero Article will appeal to academics and students interested in grammar and syntax. It covers an issue recurrent in the teaching and learning of English as Second/Foreign language, and will also appeal to teacher trainers and trainee teachers.
Leszek Berezowski is a Professor of English at Wroclaw University, Poland.