LINGUIST List 2.826

Mon 25 Nov 1991

Disc: Names

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Dan I. Slobin, Names and definiteness
  2. Sergio Balari, Re: 2.817 Names
  3. "George Fowler h(PT. OF ENGLISH, SPRAU, RE: 2.817 Names

Message 1: Names and definiteness

Date: Sat, 23 Nov 91 12:48:56 -0800
From: Dan I. Slobin <slobincogsci.Berkeley.EDU>
Subject: Names and definiteness
Names and definiteness: Obviously, the name of an
individual is definite, and this is noted in languages that
mark definiteness in other ways than in the use of articles.
In Turkish, for example, the accusative is restricted to
definites, and it is, of course, used with names.
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Message 2: Re: 2.817 Names

Date: Sat, 23 Nov 1991 17:55:43 +0000
From: Sergio Balari <>
Subject: Re: 2.817 Names
>Date: Thu, 21 Nov 91 15:26:39 EST
>From: Michael Newman <MNEHCCUNYVM.CUNY.EDU>
>Subject: Re: 2.804 Names
>Just a clarification on Sergio Balari's comments on names in Catalan.
While the
>use of a special article for males 'en' is normative, most of the time--in
>formal situations, at least in the Barcelona area--what you hear is the
>masculine article 'el.' Thus, I am known as'EL MICHAEL' not'EN MICHAEL.'
>The use of that form would have been excessively formal, approaching the
>level of the Spanish form 'don.' (In fact, etymologically, 'en' and 'don'
I tend to disagree with this observation. While it is true that "el" is
used in informal speech, for me (as a native bilingual Spanish/Catalan
speaker born in Barcelona) "en" is not at all as formal as "don" is in
Spanish (although the feminine "na" is in fact very formal). Talking to my
father about my brother I would refer to him as "en Gabriel", but NEVER as
"don Gabriel".
There is, however, an alternance "en/el" in Catalan, but I think it is
mostly due to phonological reasons. For example "en Joan", "en Pere" (and
"en Michael") are perfect, but not "n'Alfred" or "n'Eloi". In the latter
case "l'Alfred" and "l'Eloi" are used instead.
>Unfortunately, due to the peculiar sociolinguistic situation marked
>by greater than average linguistic insecurtiy, Catalans will often report
>they think they should say, when asked, rather than what they do say.
But you are absolutely right in this point, although Catalans seem to be a
bit more relaxed in their linguistic judgements lately.
Sergio Balari
Sergio Balari, U of Saarbruecken, Dept. of Computational Linguistics -- +49 (681) 3024502 -- fax +49 (681) 3024351
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Message 3: RE: 2.817 Names

Date: Sat, 23 Nov 91 13:09:08 EST
From: "George Fowler h(PT. OF ENGLISH, SPRAU <>
Subject: RE: 2.817 Names
On David Gil's comment on the "triangle" for personal names with articles:
Hungarian would like roughly on the side connecting Flemish and Greek, and
it evidences the phenomenon optionally, as a kind of stylistic thing.
Without thinking about other languages that do the same sort of thing, I
always assumed a sort of Hungarian-internal explanation. Hungarian
distinguishes between the "definite" and "indefinite" conjugations, the
former with definite direct objects and the second without (indefinite
object or no object at all). Hungarian also has explicit definiteness
markers like articles, demonstrative pronouns, and so forth. Some NP's
without such explicit markers are also definite for the purposes of
determining which conjugation to use, e.g., any morphologically possessed
noun is definite, and personal names without articles are also definite.
This is reasonable semantically, but does create a mechanical deviation
from the syntactic pattern of definite verb--explicitly definite NP. So
I always assumed that articles were first used with personal names in
direct object position, and from there spread to other constructions. Note
that articles can optionally be used with possessed nouns as well, on
more or less the same stylistic basis (perhaps it is more common than
with names). Perhaps this is wrong and/or naive. Or perhaps other languages
that have articles with names also offer evidence for the need to mark
inherent semantic definiteness explicitly?
 George Fowler
 Dept. of Slavic Languages
 Indiana University
 Ballantine 502
 Bloomington, IN 47405
 (812) 855-2624 [office]
 (317) 571-9471 [home]
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Message 4: RE: 2.817 Names

Date: Sat, 23 Nov 91 18:45:56 -0500
Subject: RE: 2.817 Names
In D. H. Lawrence's "The Fox," he refers frequently to one of his pair
of female characters -- the one who is more or less the "male" in what
we assume to be a lesbian relationship -- as "The Banford." I've
always felt uncertain about how to paraphrase what that usage
registers, beyond a certain obvious irony. And I don't think it's
native English; I think DHL is anglicizing something he's picked up
from Italian or German.
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