This article discusses the expression of referentiality and definiteness in Rapa Nui, the Polynesian language of Easter Island. Rapa Nui has a variety of determiners, including the article te and various demonstrative determiners. The article te is primarily a marker of referentiality, not definiteness or specificity.

Two common classes of demonstratives are demonstrative determiners and postnominal demonstratives. Though the latter are much more common than their equivalents in European languages, they fulfill similar functions, the most common of which are deixis and anaphora. Anaphora is further marked by the demonstrative determiner . Use of anaphoric marking is partly determined by topicality: any known referent (including participants, objects, times, etc.) is marked as anaphoric when it is topical.

The use of demonstratives is shifting over time, with a new set of demonstrative determiners gradually replacing the older anaphoric marking.

Finally, a brief investigation of demonstratives in the verb phrase shows that these fulfill a similar function to noun phrase demonstratives: they mark the clause as known and presupposed information.


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