LINGUIST List 15.580

Fri Feb 13 2004

Qs: Definite Article/Distancing; Semantic Network

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  1. Mike Blasenstein, Definite article as distance marker
  2. emilie.destruel, semantic network for preposition

Message 1: Definite article as distance marker

Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 08:30:05 -0500 (EST)
From: Mike Blasenstein <>
Subject: Definite article as distance marker

I've noticed that the use or non-use of ''the'' in English seems to
mark the distance or intimacy the speaker has with his or her subject.

I first noticed this when I naively paid to see ''Titanic'' when it
first came out: Most people in the movie referred to the ship as ''the
Titanic,'' but the researchers at the very beginning referred to it
simply as ''Titanic.'' Like, ''I first explored Titanic three years

I've also seen this happen when older people talk about ''the MTV,''
e.g. ''I don't like my son watching the MTV.''

Also, diseases -- ''I'm wearing a mask so I don't get the SARS.''

In the first case, the omission of ''the'' seems to indicate intimacy,
whereas the inclusion of ''the'' in the other two cases seems to
indicate some sort of distancing.

Is there any theory or scholarship on this? I'm afraid I'm just a
linguist wannabe, and not the real deal, so I hope I'm not asking an
obvious question.

Subject-Language: English; Code: ENG 
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Message 2: semantic network for preposition

Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 08:29:01 +0100
From: emilie.destruel <>
Subject: semantic network for preposition

I'm currently working on the spatial gram "On" and more especially,
I'm trying to map out its semantic network. But I am having trouble
finding the prototypical meaning as well as the lexical root of this
particle. If you have any ideas please could you send me an e-mail at
the above address.
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